Friday, 30 August 2013

Where to get a sticky pencil

Quite a bit of interest in the sticky pencil so I had a look around and here they are on Amazon (UK) with free postage

Window displays

Just two days to the end of the month.  I'll be lucky if I get the displays done in that time frame.  I know they will be missing chocolates and cakes and sweets but I have to buy those at Miniatura next month.  I am writing about Chocolat in real time for the magazine and have a set of particular things to do each month.  August should have been electrics and September the displays of goodies (after Miniatura) but I ordered some lights from Ray Storey for a September pick up at Miniatura so I couldn't do the electrics and I had to do a switch.  I am almost equally scuppered by the same problem i.e. not having the stuff to do the displays until after the big show.   Name of the game I'm afraid.

Any way, today I managed to get the two window displays set up ready to be filled.

patisserie window
The right hand window will be the one for patisseries. I want a large very beautiful cake for the doily on the floor in the centre.  I hope to get petits fours or maybe fancy biscuits or, even better, macarons for the two tier cake stand.  Then it will be whatever I can find that's different to fit the other two stands/plates.

chocolate window

I am pleased with my chocolate Venus even if she is actually a slave girl in chains - just don't look too closely.  She is an essential part of the movie as it is the turning point for the Marie who breaks in during the night to wreck the 'lustful' display and ends up eating it and passing out.  He  has (extreme) fasted for Lent so we assume a serious sugar rush!  The lovely oversize truffles are peppercorns - they work really well.  I have to make Nipples of Venus for the rectangular tray and hope to buy beautiful chocolates for the other trays.

True2scale decals
I added some decals to some plastic 'dishes' to tart them up.  I can't afford fine china (aka Stokesey) so I like the plastic because they are nice and thin but then hate them because they are plastic!  Best compromise disguise them.  This system works well and doesn't break the bank.

I don't cut the decals to fit I cut them slightly oversize and when they are dry trim them back to the plate/saucer. The dishes should be painted cream first - not essential as the decals cover the whole surface.  The decals on the cups are a pain to do as they are so tiny.  These cups really needed to be cream though as the decals (obviously) don't cover the whole cup.  I did have four cream cups ready for the decals but then discovered they have ridges in them - aaaarrgh! so I just did a short-cut and lobbed the flower trim on the white ones.  Vianne has a bundle of mixed dishes so it will be fine.

Free Gift

This is last month's free gift from Dolls House & Miniature Scene magazine - a pick-up pencil.  Utterly great - how have I ever managed without one.  Seriously.  Have you ever tried to separate these fiddly metallic confetti-type things let alone (wo)man-handle them into place on a project.  Et voilĂ ! ....a pick up pencil.  As you can see looks like an ordinary coloured pencil and sharpens in the same way but it has a bit of a tacky 'lead'.  Exactly the right amount of tacky - it picks up and releases just as you want it to.  I suppose when it gets grubby you just sharpen in.  I will be distraught when it becomes a stub - I hope it sees me out.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Furniture done

Today has been a day of stinking the house out!  Wood stain and liquid wax just reek.... with the addition of curry for lunch we are spending a lot of time in the garden.

Stuff is stained, liquid wax polished - didn't really work, brown shoe polished - didn't really work and finally back to old faithful - B & Q satin varnish - sorted!

Didn't melt a pot with the stain, only splattered on the table - I thought, remembered to wear gloves so my hands wouldn't look dreadful for a couple of weeks and then I looked at my legs!!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Finally getting started on August!

Yesterday - the 25th I actually started on the August list of jobs.  Firstly I got out the teeny chocolates I'ordered a while ago and tried to decorate them.  Mmmmm??? not exactly brilliant  but, on the basis I only need a few things for actual 'posh' display and I can buy those (!), these will do fine.  Nothing wrong with the original product - they were excellent:

I just haven't a clue how to go about adding to them.  This is my attempt at the first lot of milk chocolates.

They are less than a quarter of an inch across, so fiddly isn't the right word to describe it.  I made up a tray for Sally - she's the figure I keep handy to check scale when I am working.  As you can see a chocolate getting on for four inches in real life might be the best thing ever but it is not what you would call in scale.  The problem is that to be any where near accurate they need to be a twelfth of an inch, maximum. Not only is this some challenge to make they would be nigh on invisible in a room setting.  As PK said, you might as well use bits off the carpet!

Today I sorted out all the stuff I have gathered relating to shop displays and was pleased to find there was quite a bit of it.  This is just one of seven groups of things - Sally seems to have got in there as well.

I then did a rough 'arrange'on the furniture to see what I need to buy from Miniatura.  Again this is just one of the seven display areas - the glass-fronted counter.  I can fill the chocolate trays as I said, so I need truffles or two 'somethings' for the cake stand on top, a large centre cake below and enough for two platters of petit fours.  Did I say Vianne is branching out into patisserie as well as chocolats?  The English don't appreciate fine chocolate but they love their cakes.

Finally the seven lots of display items were put gently into a pencil-labelled envelope (so I can re-use them) ready for when the furniture is made and/or stained/waxed/painted.  For those of you who click to enlarge the photos, try to look at the envelopes and not Johnny Depp.  That's the screen shot I am using for reference.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Petwood and panic mode

I am just a bit in panic mode at the moment and here I am writing a post for a blog!

I have correspondence up to my armpits - snail and 'e', three articles with deadlines to finish (like yesterday!), a ton of research for a two-year project, little things like friends and family to keep in touch with and all the normal chores of day to day.  None of this is creating the panic (well not much) the voice in my ear is telling me I haven't started my August tasks for the series I am writing about Chocolat.  I am writing eight pieces in real time and have a schedule of jobs to complete each month to ensure it is finished before I decamp to the US for winter.  August is all about making and displaying the sweeties, cakes and chocolates in the shop.  Underpinning that I have to actually make some of the display furniture as well.  Truth is I haven't lifted a single chocolate as yet and it is now the 21st.........ah well, it is a 31 day month, that gives me another day.  See how I think!

Meanwhile we sailed off for a week away last week culminating in a visit to the Petwood show in Woodhall Spa.  Cracking little place in Lincolnshire and worth a trip in itself.  Strangely enough we were there last year on a short break and missed the fair by a couple of days.

This year - thanks to my travel agent (aka PK [Poor Ken]) I made it.

Like Woodhall Spa itself, the Lyndsey fair at Petwood was well worth the couple of nights stop-over in The Hideaway.

The fair is held at a great hotel called Petwood - the home of the dam buster squadron in the war.

It is a lovely setting and often all sorts of other things going on at the same time.  On our Sunday there was a beer festival!  Sadly no use to PK as we were driving home that day - bit of bad planning on his part - he needs to have a word with himself.

Open 10am - 4 pm, £2.50 to get in and drinks for a pound - what's not to like.  There are about 35 stands to go at.  I saw a handful of ones I knew which is normal now I do 1+ shows a month but I also found half a dozen or more that were new to me.  

I have written about the quarter scale chap in my QS blog ( so I won't go over it again here, but here's a sample of his work to make you go and have a look. 

There will also be my usual review in DH&MS magazine in a month or so but, as not everyone gets that, here's some stuff I saw at the show.  The rest of the photos are on the web album site as Minis - Petwood.

 Here's just a couple of photos of great things made by Jacqueline Crosby.(
 Again go to the web album for more.

It is hard choosing what to photograph at the time and harder again to choose samples from those.  Everything she does is lovely.

Nicely done jewellery from Marman House Miniatures. ( This is always hard to do in scale and these were delightfully dainty and accurate.

Again she did a load of other stuff including the radio I bought.

I think my favourite of the day was Little Pieces.  I am dotty about Mackintosh and Arts and Crafts style; these so rang my bell.

Those who know me know I do a project each Summer and 2014 and 2015 are lined up - I hope they around and still in my price bracket by 2016 because I want to do an arts and crafts house full of this stuff.

My own purchases were modest

Too much magnification here - it looks terrific in real life 
 An assortment of knobs - I keep finding I need them.
 Almost as cheap as a magazine and lots of lovely pictures to inspire.
I needed to replace one of my door handles - I broke it when gluing it in place.  Yes, I know there are 'nails' - do you know how tiny these are - compare them to the staples in the bag!

I also bought a wind-break for Starfish Cottage but realised it was 1/24th when I got home.  Some people just get giddy at shows!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Introducing The Miniature Craft Room

I don't think I ever 'advertise' folk other than ones I mention in passing when I buy stuff but I thought I would nudge you to have a look at a brand new lady appearing on the web today.  I mentioned her in the Pudsey review I did for DH&MS and she is now up and running on-line.

I am especially fond of her bags and have made a note to buy one of her beach bags and knitting bags at Miniatura.  She will be at the September 21/22 show.

The Miniature Craft Room

Friday, 2 August 2013

Chocolates - at last

All this talk of Chocolat and not a chocolate in site.  This has been remedied by the delivery of 216 of them in three 'strengths'.  I have milk, dark and white chocolates.  They are a perfect size - the round one being one eight of an inch across!  The maker was a great find at a show.  Dotties Miniatures - just Facebook search them.

Even though they are so small everyone is detailed with some pattern or another.  I am hoping to enhance them with a piece of violet or an almond or some gold.  The best known chocolate from the movie must be 'Nipples of Venus' with a white chocolate tip.  They need to be a different shape to these so I may still have a go at Fimo and see what I can do.  Meanwhile I have got something to get me started.

I'll just leave you with the real thing to drool over..........

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Finished the roof just in time

The last exterior job was finished with a day to go before the end of the month.

I am trying to work to an exact schedule so I can write a piece for DH&MS at the end of each month covering a particular aspect of making Chocolat. I don't want to cheat it or it becomes pointless.  I want to be able to present a series in real time without any retrospective thoughts or actions, so readers can see what I did wrong as well as what I managed to get right.  Because I decamp at the end of October I devised a schedule covering one area a month before I leave.  July has been the exterior work.

I commend Versi roof tiles to you even if decide you don't need/want the versi-bricks.  The tiling is really easy and quick.  You can draw guidelines so there is no messing around trying to keep things on track.  I also lay down a line of glue and do about ten tiles at a time - this glue line is a bit short!

You need to find an undercoat that 'matches' your tiles so no light bits show through.  As you can see it doesn't have to be all that close.  This is the closest I could get in a match pot.  Not surprisingly there isn't a great clamour for red/brown paint.  It was absolutely fine.

The tiles come with instructions so I won't repeat them here.  What a great effect at the end.

My work for August is to get the chocolates and their displays done.  I feel a bit overwhelmed by this as it involves a lot of work.  I have to make some display furniture, finish and stain counters, shelves etc, fit out the windows in some way, make the chocolates and a couple of cakes and arrange them around a rather large shop area.   This might be the month that 'breaks me'.