Monthly Archives: March 2017

Look what I’ve bought for my doll’s house toy shop – tiny little dolls!!

If I was really focussed, I would build my doll’s house toy shop, decorate it on the outside and the inside, and only THEN start to collect things to fill it. That would be in an ideal world, of course. But life isn’t like that, is it? In real life, we get tempted by stuff. Well, I do, anyway.

I obviously already had an interest in miniature toys, or I wouldn’t have wanted to make a twelfth scale version of a toy shop at all, would I?!

I’m just trying to justify what I’ve done – I had this plan, you see, that I’d get all the decorating done, and then I’d go online and start buying stuff. But I kind of gave in a few weeks ago, and ordered some rather nice things. They came in a pretty box like this:

Even the inside was pretty, and the packaging carefully folded:

I had taken the tissue paper off before I thought to take the next picture, but this is what was in the box:

Tiny dollies! And a little girl to be the ‘customer’ in my toy shop, who will be able to choose from all the toys!

They have all been made to order by Diane Yunnie, of South Africa, who makes the most gorgeous little dolls. The little girl doll is fully posable, and if you balance her right, she doesn’t need a doll stand.

I have a real soft spot for French-looking porcelain dolls (I collect reproduction full-size ones too – that’s another blog post or two….), and these are just lovely.  If you’re not sure of the size of these, each little doll is just under two inches high.

Cute, aren’t they? Quite an incentive for me to get on with my decorating of the Sid Cooke toy shop kit, so that they’ll have a home……

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