Book review: Le Monde de Beatrix Potter – a cross stitch book in French

I really like the work of Beatrix Potter – the original books especially, but also the many styles of embroidery kits of her work that have appeared over the years. I have collected several of them, when I come across them on Ebay, for example.

Recently, I managed to get hold of a copy of this little gem of a book:

Potter 1

It’s in French (the title, ‘Le Monde de Beatrix Potter’ is a bit of a giveaway there!) – it means ‘The World of Beatrix Potter’. The book is small in size  – 6 x 8.5 inches – and only has 80 pages, but it’s gorgeous, nonetheless.

It is by the French cross stitch designer Veronique Enginger. If you haven’t come across her before, try looking at the page dedicated to her on her publisher’s website. She does beautiful cross stitch kits and books – always in a very distinctive French style. Many are available on Amazon.co.uk.

This book is rather different for her, though, as she sticks very carefully to Beatrix Potter’s signature style, as in the watercolour illustrations from the books.

Potter 2

The book is mainly composed of double page spreads of little collections of motifs on a theme, such as Peter Rabbit, or Pigling Bland. There are one or two larger designs per two-page spread, and then lots of smaller motifs scattered around, on the same theme and colourway.

Potter 3

So, really, this book is more a collection of motifs for you to choose from when composing your own projects, than a book of ‘complete designs’. All the colour keys give thread colours for DMC stranded cotton. There are several pages of styleshot photos, showing how the cross stitch designs can be used in items such as cushions, tote bags, and so on.

Potter 4

At the back of the book is a section on how to do cross stitch, materials needed, how to work out how big any particular motif will be when worked on different counts of fabric, etc. Beware, though, that these are, obviously, written in French, as it’s a French book! So, if French isn’t your best subject, just stick to using the book for the designs themselves.

Potter 5

I’m considering taking motifs from this book and making a kind of ‘soft book’ with about six pages in (so that’s twelve page sides to stitch), to be able to use my favourite images from Veronique’s book. I could fill in the space around the edges of the pages with the smaller motifs, and design my own cover. If I get the time, that is. If not, it’s just a pretty book to look at!

As I said before, I ‘managed to get hold’ of this book – it is out of print now, and has been for a while. It occasionally pops up on Ebay, or Amazon (also, try the French Amazon site, as that’s where I got my copy from). But be warned….it’s not cheap now. My copy cost me over £40. But I think it’s worth it, for such a pretty book, with so many well-designed classic images in it.

Le Monde de Beatrix Potter, by Veronique Enginger (out of print)

Originally 10 euro when in print.

Mango Pratique Series, published by http://www.fleuruseditions.com

80 pages. Paperback.

ISBN 9 782842 706326

How to assemble, then paint, a Sid Cooke shop kit

Having done a dry run of my Sid Cooke shop kit, I then pinned and glued it together.  This is how it looked when I assembled it roughly, holding it together with masking tape:

toy-4

The instructions said to glue and pin each panel of the main house in place – the kit even includes plenty of panel pins, and some wood glue – so I had no excuse not to do it properly. It went together very well (but I didn’t take any process photos – sorry!). I had bought this shop kit as two separate pieces, as it’s available like that to give people choice – you can buy just the base shop part, or add on the top half to make it look more like real building. If you buy both, you just glue the middles together to make one structure.

The front lower panel will eventually just lift off from the main shop part itself. It consists of quite a few pieces, but they are all cut accurately, and just needed gluing together with the wood glue. Fine bead trims are provided, cut to length, to cover over the joins of the main pieces, so it ends up looking more complicated than it actually was to assemble. I’m very pleased with how it came out!

The only piece that needed to be put aside for now is the signboard, which is fitted in place last, once the lettering has been added. Not sure yet how I’ll do that.

I then painted all the surfaces with white emulsion paint, partly to stabilise the surfaces ready for finishing with the final colour, and partly to stop the wood from warping if I’d only painted one side of the wood. I even painted the base.

For the top coats, I used various shades of emulsion that I bought as match pots. One match pot in any colour is plenty for painting a doll’s house, and sometimes I bought several close shades at once, and then tried them out at home, to make sure I had exactly the right colour (just what match pots are for, really, but used on a mini house, not a full-sized one!).

Most of the time, I found that Dulux emulsion gave the best coverage, and had a large range of colours to choose from. Wilkinsons paint was too thick, and the colours didn’t match the labels on the outsides of the pots, which was very annoying, and Crown seemed to have far too many beiges, and not much else.

The chimney for this kit is to be painted and attached last, after the roof is on, so I painted the chimney pot at this stage, then put it aside to be ‘bricked’ later.

I also cut the covings and skirtings for the two rooms at this stage, as the covings needed painting (the skirtings needed varnishing – different job!), so while I had the emulsion out, it made sense to paint everything at once.

outside-1

When the lower shop frontage was completely dry, I undercoated the whole of it with a pale green emulsion, and was planning to do the top coat a dark olive green. This was far harder to find in the correct shade than I’d expected. I looked online for hours, then had a fruitless trip round all the local shops….it’s just that a dingy olive green isn’t fashionable at the moment for real houses, so hardly anyone is making that shade of paint. Eventually, I found the range made by Little Greene. I don’t think they realise how hard they are to find online, when you key in ‘little green pot of paint’ into Google! You’d expect them to come up first, wouldn’t you? It took me days to find them, as Google doesn’t work like that  🙂 Anyway, the olive green paint I used (undercoated with a pale green emulsion) was this Little Greene match pot which I sent off for, and was a beautiful Edwardian-looking shade. Eventually.

outside-2

The inside of the shop window area I painted with Dulux emulsion in ‘Putting green’ shade – a soft pale green. I’ll need to make some kind of shelving for the inside of the bay windows at some point to display the toys on, probably painted in the same colour.

outside-3

This shows you how it will fit together:

outside-4

Next up, painting and wallpapering the interior.

 

Variations on a rosy theme

The most popular collection of co-ordinating designs in my whole range of miniature needlepoint embroidery kits is this ‘Summer Roses’ one. Over the years, I have enlarged the range so that it now includes all of these kits:

summer-roses-collection-2016-800

One of my customers, called Natalia, who lives in Russia, recently sent me some pictures of the Summer Roses designs that she has made up, and adapted, in some cases, for her own doll’s house. Here’s the pretty dining room setting that she has made, using various Summer Roses kits. She has very ingeniously used the tray cloth as a picture above the fireplace!

natalia-image-sent-6-june-2016-pict9488

On the table there is a teacosy, made up as per the kit, on 32 count silk gauze. But look at what else she has done! She’s taken the teacosy motif, and created a very beautiful table topper, using repeated motifs at the corners. How clever!

natalia-image-sent-6-june-2016-pict9474

On top of the mantelpiece is a table runner. In the kit, there are no tassel instructions, but Natalia has made tassels as in the bellpull kits, and added them at the corners of her runner, making her one unique.

natalia-image-sent-6-june-2016-pict9482

For comparison, here is my own doll’s house room, featuring many of the Summer Roses pieces. The ‘feel’ of this room is very different from Natalia’s. I love that about embroidery – everyone puts their own personality on to whatever they make.

summer-roses-collection-in-a-room

 

 

A huge list of websites that sell doll’s houses and miniature 1:12 accessories, to get you started in the hobby!

Since changing the focus of this blog from just being about embroidery, to also covering my hobby (and business) of 1:12 doll’s houses, several people have contacted me to ask how they get started in this hobby. ‘Where are the best places to buy miniature things?’ is the question I am being asked the most.

So, I’m going to give you a LONG list of the websites that I like – most of them are in the UK, as I am English, but I do buy from anywhere in the world, if that’s what I need to do to get exactly what I want for my three doll’s houses. Miniaturists are known to be rather particular! In the list below, the websites can be assumed to be in the UK unless a country is listed beside the name. It’s worth noting though, that these days about 99% of websites will ship anywhere in the world, so it’s not usually a problem if a supplier isn’t based in the same country as you. It just means that you might have to wait a bit longer for your parcel to arrive, there may be import taxes to pay, and of course, shipping will be higher from another country. But I’ve found that it’s not worth compromising on what you really want, in the long run.

In the list below, I have roughly grouped the themes of what the websites sell together, but it’s a good idea to browse each site anyway, as many sellers have diverse items (many unique), and I can’t describe everything that they sell, here  🙂 Also, I can’t, obviously, include absolutely every doll’s house website on the planet – this list covers my favourites only, and I have bought – or intend to buy soon – from all of these.

One thing that I have found very useful when I’m browsing websites for ideas for my doll’s houses is to save images of things that I like to a specific Pinterest board, so that I have a visual ‘shopping list’ for later. Here’s my one for my doll’s house toy shop, and the one for my miniature French cafe, to show you what I mean. As I actually buy things, I move the image to the board ‘Dollhouse miniatures I’ve bought now‘, so that I can remember what I’ve bought, and who I bought it from! Some people say I’m over-organised, but I don’t agree….

Remember that many businesses these days have Facebook pages and blogs as well as websites that they sell from – here, I’ve only listed the websites.

So, get yourself a coffee, and have a good look through this list, for ideas to get you started on the wonderful hobby of twelfth scale doll’s houses!

GENERAL

Melody Jane Dolls Houses. Stocks over 3000 items.

melody-jane-dolls-houses_400

Melody Jane Dolls Houses

My Tiny World. Stocks over 14000 items.

Petit Connoisseurs. (South Africa) Many unusual miniatures from all over the world. Many dolls, toys, one-off items, and some vintage too.

Jennifers of Walsall. Large range of items, including lots of wallpapers and fabrics.

jennifers-of-walsall_400

Jennifers of Walsall

Phoenix Model Developments. White metal kits to make all kinds of accessories.

Sussex Crafts. Quality household items. Many fireplaces and metal items.

Newtonwood Miniatures. Unusual household miniatures.

Karon Cunningham Miniatures. High quality items from a large range of miniaturists from all over the world. Many toys.

karon-cunningham_400

Karon Cunningham Miniatures

Dolls House Emporium. Good budget range for those starting in the hobby. Very large website. Over 6000 items.

Streets Ahead. Good budget range for those starting in the hobby. You can download a pdf catalogue from their website, but they don’t sell direct to the public – only via shops and other website businesses. There is a good list of stockists on their website, to help you locate your nearest shop.

Maple Street Miniatures. Good budget range for those starting in the hobby. Very large website. Stockist of Sid Cooke dolls house kits (my Edwardian toy shop is a Sid Cooke one).

Wonham Collection. Over 2000 items. Good budget range for those starting in the hobby. Very large website.

Minimum World. Large range of budget to medium priced furniture and accessories.

Dollshouse Mania. Over 12000 items in stock. Stockists of Jia Yi high quality furniture.

Art of Mini. (Germany). Many interesting and unusual items, many as kits. Flower kits, glass items, ephemera, etc. Website has an English translation.

Art of Mini

Art of Mini

MINIATURE EMBROIDERY / NEEDLEPOINT

Janet Granger Designs. (Well, I would put my own website on this list, wouldn’t I?!) Almost 300 kits and charts for all kinds of 1:12 miniature needlepoint – carpets, bellpulls, chairs, Christmas stockings, handbags, etc. 18 count canvas to 40 count silk gauze.

group-shot-2012-oct

My website – Janet Granger Designs

CURTAINS

Curtains-Petite. Custom curtains made to your own measurements or ready-made.

Tanya Shevtsova Miniature Curtains. (Russia). Beautiful, fancy gathered curtains and pelmets.

Tanya Shevtsova

Tanya Shevtsova

MiniChris. Pleated curtains and roller blinds – ready made or custom sizes.

LIGHTING

Ray Storey Lighting.  Finely made working lights with glass shades, historically accurate.

Ray Storey Lighting

Ray Storey Lighting

Micro Miniatures. Lighting systems.

FOOD
Paris miniatures. My favourite maker of food in the world! French style patisserie is their speciality. Whole large cakes, ones with a slice taken out, and ‘cakes for one’. Christmas, Halloween, Easter and Valentine’s Day ‘special ranges’ brought out each year as limited editions.

Paris Miniatures

Paris Miniatures

BUILDING SUPPLIES, WOOD, PAINT, etc

W. Hobby Ltd. Kits, paints, wood strip and mouldings. Large range.

Hobbies of Dereham. Kits, paints, wood strip and mouldings. Large range.

Replicast. Plaster fireplaces, ceiling roses, mouldings, etc.

Replicast

Replicast

Stacey’s Miniature Masonry (was ‘Richard Stacey’). Brick and stone cladding (real and ‘slips’ made from textured card), and roof slates.

Bromley Craft Products. Lighting, building materials, real wood flooring, etc.

Jaspers Miniatures. Many items for building/finishing, inc. real wood flooring.

Little Green Workshop. DIY materials, lighting systems, transformers, etc.

PLATES/CUPS & SAUCERS

Twelve Times More Teeny. (Spain). Transfer-decorated plates, cups and saucers – amazing detail, large range.

A Lavender Dilly. (Australia). Transfer-decorated plates, cups and saucers – amazing detail, large range. Also cafe signs.

A Lavender Dilly

A Lavender Dilly

SHABBY CHIC ITEMS

Sarahs Lil Essentials. Cafe signs, accessories and furniture in shabby chic style.

HOUSES

Dolls House Direct. Houses, shops and room boxes. My miniature French style cafe/florist’s shop kit (‘Malbury’) was bought from here.

Maple Street for Sid Cooke houses. Huge range of houses, furniture and accessories. They bought up the Sid Cooke business in 2016, and are gradually revamping the range and will have the whole range of shops and houses available for sale as kits or ready-built as soon as possible.

FURNITURE

McQueenie Miniatures. Fine quality miniature furniture  and kits, mainly in mahogany. Also make a gypsy caravan.

Manchester Miniatures. (USA) Kits and ready made, among a large range of items. I bought the tables for my French cafe from here (as kits).

Meirucorp Store. (China) Huge range of quite fancy/decorated furniture, similar to Bespaq.

Meirucorp

Meirucorp

Dream Home Miniatures. Official Supplier of Jia Yi dolls house furniture and miniatures for the UK, Ireland and Northern Europe.

Wooden House Miniatures. Simple furniture, ‘country’ painted pine.

Escutcheon Miniatures. Finely made furniture in yew and mahogany.

Escutcheon

Escutcheon

Ann High. Quality carved furniture.

MICRO DOLLS FOR DOLL’S HOUSE DOLLS (under two inches high)

Tower House Dolls. Finished dolls and doll kits for Jumeau and other style ‘antique looking’ dolls – very prettily dressed. Also many other kinds of toys, such as pull-along animals, Alice in Wonderland themed toys, etc.

Tower House Dolls

Tower House Dolls

Diane Yunnie. (South Africa). Very pretty Jumeau-style porcelain dolls; also doll’s prams.

Debbie Dixon-Paver. (South Africa). Finely made little dolls, very collectable! Also makes women, men and child dolls in 1:12 scale.

Ethel Hicks’ Angel Children. (USA). Artist dolls in a distinctive style.

Jan Althouse. (USA). Really, really tiny dolls – under an inch high! Have to be seen to be believed.

DOLLS, ADULT & CHILD, 1:12 SCALE

Angelique Miniatures   Hand-crafted character dolls from ALL historical periods

World of My Own. Women, men and child dolls, character dolls, doll kits.

PLANTS (both KITS and FINISHED)

The Miniature Garden. Paper flower kits.

Templewood Miniatures. Flower kits (also 1/144 scale houses).

Lamis Minis. (Germany) Paper flower kits.

Mi Patio Escondido. (Spain) Paper flower kits. To order, email a list of what you’d like, and they will send a Paypal invoice.

Mi Patio Escondido

Mi Patio Escondido

BOOKS/EPHEMERA

The Linen Press. Books, building blocks, packs of cards, calendars, etc.

TOYS

Tower House Dolls. Porcelain dolls, pull-along toys, Alice in Wonderland items, toy theatres, Jack-in-the-box, pierrot dolls, etc.

Artisanos Felipe Royo. (Spain) Wide range of toys, dolls, etc., such as a hobby horse, artist dolls, fort. Also high quality furniture.

Severn Models. 1/144 scale houses (doll’s houses for doll’s houses) made from brass sheet, to be assembled and painted.

Severn Models

Severn Models

Petite Properties Ltd. 1/144 scale houses (doll’s houses for doll’s houses), to be assembled and painted.

Sally Reader Miniatures. Toys.

Roberson Miniatures. Very finely made, historically accurate prams.

Roberson Miniatures

Roberson Miniatures

Valerie Casson.  Toys, nursery furniture, ark, soldiers.

Veronique Lux. (France) Toys, tiny houses, felted toy animals.

WICKER ITEMS

Wicker Miniature. (Russia). Baskets, conservatory furniture, nursery furniture, bookcases.

Also, try these magazines:

Artisans in Miniature (Online group for the ‘mini artisan’ community, which professional miniaturists can belong to). Its website has a good section of ‘Member profiles‘, giving details of what their members make, sorted by theme, with links to their websites, blogs, etc. They publish a really good, free online magazine for the public every couple of months, with a huge back issue section on the website also.

Dolls House and Miniature Scene Magazine.

The Dolls House Magazine. (Published by Guild of Master Craftsmen)

Dolls House World Magazine.

American Miniaturist Magazine. (USA)

Miniature Collector. (USA)

Dolls House Nederland. (Netherlands)

1 zu 12. (Germany)

SEE ALSO…..

Pinterest is an amazing resource for doll’s house images. Not all images found on Pinterest link back to shop websites – for instance, many are from blogs (but they are also interesting!). I have found that the search results are far better if you use keywords such as ‘1:12’ rather than ‘doll’s house’, for some reason.

 

Good luck with your browsing!

Please note: These websites were active as at February 2017 – if you find a link that doesn’t work, please let me know by emailing janet@janetgranger.co.uk, and I’ll update the list. Thanks!

Also: I can only add websites to this list if I personally have bought from them. By all means contact me to let me know of good ones, but this list is of my personal favourites, not a general ‘free advertisement’ directory.