Friday, 5 December 2014

Quarter scale tiles

I have found the most wonderful tiles (and flooring) in quarter scale.

The vendor is an arm of Ann Marie Miniatures in the UK.  Dollhouse Flooring (Graham Simpkin).  They post worldwide for $4.

As many of you know I arrived back in the UK yesterday and in my mountain of mail was a little padded envelope containing these:

loose laid to show roughly what they will look like

to give you a sense of scale - they are 12 inch tiles in real life

the white marble I chose has a slight sheen

the contrast I chose is a biscuit coloured marble

I also have some cut diagonally across to make a triangular border around the edge of the room.  They are not destined for the opening in the Gate House as shown here but are for the entrance hall in Les Roches.  I began with the traditional black and white and then grey and white and then decided I wanted the house to feel light and warm and sunny so here we are.

The thinness of the material (a laminate) is perfect for the job.  I just love them and expect to love them more when they are all stuck down.

Take a minute to check the site there is masses and masses of choice of colours, patterns, materials, layouts - there has to be something you want.  I can see a zillion potential floors already for houses I haven't dreamed of yet.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Bought at Philly

If you want to see the things I bought at the Philly show for Les Roches and The Gatehouse, click here Dolls House Shows

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Petworth's demi-lune table

Yesterday's first photo showing the chandeliers also shows a pair of demi-lune tables from Petworth Miniatures.

Note to any newbie be very careful about the first one or two choices of things to make.  I wasn't and was very nearly put of quarter scale by choosing a couple of things I really liked.  Sadly things you 'really like' are often attractive because they are a complicated structure and hence they are not for the faint-hearted (or newbie's).  I would say this table is in that category.  No way is it difficult - just a bit over-fiddly for someone who hasn't yet found their feet.  Gayle's products are so close to their life model that these pretty pieces will always be intricate.

almost there

The first challenge is shaping the legs.  Luckily for me the tables will be viewed from the front (no side view) so I only needed to shape the two front legs of each table.  Indeed decorative tables like these often only had the front leg shaped.  This photo shows you the sanding in progress.  It needs a much slimmer ankle.

There is a plethera of difficulties sanding and shaping a piece this size starting with the tools. I used just about everything in my sanding drawer settling mostly on a $3 set of very small different shaped (metal tool) files.

It is hard to see what shape you have achieved because you end up removing colour from the wood and that distorts you view of the outline.

The pieces are so small there is a very real chance of snapping something (other than your patience).

Don't be put off by this step; if you don't want to do it, the tables will look very nice with their legs as they are.  Indeed Regency were very plain - leave out the stretcher and leave the legs plain and they will be spot on.

picky, picky
This is another step you don't need to do, but I always think I have the kit so I might as well use it.  I assembled the pieces this far and left them on my magnetic jig to dry while I had lunch.  It does help me see that I have got things at right angles and it does actually put pressure on the joints though I suspect, at this scale, it won't make a scrap of difference.

showing you the stretcher underneath the table

This is the finished construction before I stained the pieces.  Those front legs still look chunky I may give them another going over but I will see how they look when stained. I also need to do something more with the nibs which fastened them in their frame - I was sure I had that OK.  Cameras are great for pointing out your failings.  No, really, they are a useful tool.  

one wet one dry

Test your stain colours on the frame they came from to see how they interact with that particular wood.  I ended up choosing red mahogany (Min-wax).  This is my least favourite colour but it looks OK on this wood.

I use stain pens and always stain before I assemble - except this time - I won't do this again, staining when the piece is built is decidedly more difficult.  I did see a tip from someone who said she dunked the finished pieces in the stain and then fished them out.  Great idea if you have tins of stain but I can't imagine ever needing that amount.  

The left one is dry and a nice muted colour - the one on the right is still wet and the colour I dislike.  If I were to varnish the piece it would get near to the colour of the wet one - it is the shine on the piece which is giving the red hue.  Old tables would not be varnished to a high shine, they might be french polished but I suspect these pieces would just be waxed to a soft sheen over the years so I am happy to go back in and tidy them up and gently buff them with brown paper and see what result I can get.  Matt or satin varnish can give a nice finish as it 'fills' the 'holes' in the wood, giving a nice smooth surface.  We'll see.

Google - 'Regency demi-lune images' - if you want loads of inspiration for finishing them.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

More gold leaf pen and chandeliers

I know I finished the last post with the promise of saucepans next time but who wants saucepans when you can have chandeliers.?

click to enlarge

You may remember I recently got these from Petworth miniatures.  I had been looking for chandeliers for the salon and the dining room and generally haven't been able to find anything I like.  I have seen only one I liked but it would mean a second mortgage on my house so I gave up on that idea.

I then saw these by Petworth.  To be truthful I thought they looked a bit hefty and rather Tudor(ish) but thought I could maybe take a look and see if I could use them some other way if they wouldn't hack it.  No need to fear: Petworth being Petworth has come up trumps.

Those of you practiced in these arts and seeing the dressmakers' pin nearby have already grasped that they are a bit fiddly to assemble but are well worth the effort.

Handy tip as always - obey the experts.  Gayle suggests in her instructions that you hold the pieces as you cut through the tab which holds them in their frame so they don't ping away.  Why would someone as talented and intelligent as me need to do that?  Plus (using a magnifying glass to work with) the pieces are a fair size so not a problem!  Ping! one of the little candle cups (circle beneath the candle) 'disappeared'.  There is a propensity for these things to defy the space/time continuum and leave their frame as a giant gold circle and become the size of a speck of dust and change its colour to that of any background it chooses to land on.  It doesn't just land of course, it roams and when you find it you spend forever saying "How did it get there?".  Moral of this story:  Do as you are told by people who know better.

The secret of success with this piece is getting all the verticals vertical and all the horizontals horizontal and there are a lot of them.  Quick drying glue is pretty much a must and something to hang it on as it dries between steps.  This pin went into a piece of sytrene packing leaned up against a mug on my desk.

.....  and here it is finished and drying.  This picture doesn't improve much on the picture on the packet.  This small stuff is hellish to photograph flatteringly (kudos to those who do)  As always the real McCoy is so much nicer than this.  I am just a bit concerned that the small rooms of  Les Roches may not cope with a grand chandelier.  If not. it just means I will have to make something else some time to accommodate it.  My usual method of 'saving money' - to save wasting five dollars (cost of this item) I will spend a few hundred to wrap something around it.

The 'basket in the centre is just fabulous as it means I can light it with a chip LED.  I love this light.

Here's its little brother - no way to add a light to this, but as it is for the salon I can have wall lights, firelight, table lamps so not a problem.  Here in Florida many rooms don't have centre lights - why not the same (on this occasion) in France?

May second coat the gold and the candles and black tip the candles for a burned wick.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Mirror and gold leaf pen

This post is a double-up - showing you a lovely mirror kit from Petworth Miniatures and a terrific gold leaf pen from just about anywhere (Amazon in my case).

need another one

The mirror is a delight.  It is made (almost) like a real mirror.  Two pieces of wood for the frame and a very thin third frame for the front edge.  It is shaped and etched to resemble an impressively hefty gilt mirror.  Even the back is covered in paper.  I made it even more legitimate by using a bit of a brown paper bag.  The mirror glass is real glass so it has weight and depth and clear reflections.

The pen is superb.  It is about as close as you could get to gold leafing without actually having to do it.  In case you don't remember or haven't read my negative tale (of how I didn't get one from Jo-Ann's here are its details.

18 KT Gold Leafing Pen by Krylon.  Just Google it and you will get many hits.  Find the best deal (don't forget postage costs) and you'll be good to go.  I also bought the silver one at the same time for pots and pans - haven't tried that yet.  I think they have other metals too. Come back tomorrow when I do the pans.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Quarter scale section in DH&MS magazine

I am such a happy bunny.

It has taken me a while but I have finally persuaded my editor that quarter scale is a growing market (even in the UK) and we ought to commit to at least one quarter scale feature each month so that it is steady and regular for quarter scalers to find.

I am being offered one each for at least a year.

I don't doubt I can do one a month - already have so many stewing away - but I thought this was a good place to share this in case anyone out there has a burning desire to see something quarter scale in print.  Personally I think we need a whole magazine!

The magazine is a UK one - Dolls House & Miniature Scene - I will let you know when it happens - these things take months.

Treats - Suzanne and Andrews Miniatures

Away with the practical and on with the dreamy things....

Here are some purchases from Suzanne and Andrews Miniatures

The first is very simply some lovely detailed (deliberately large door handles).  Painted with brass paint they are perfect for a pub or shop or similar premises.  Not sure now I have them (and yes, I love them) that they will be right for my French front door as I had planned, but I do have a cunning plan to make them cast iron and use them in the Gate House instead.

click to enlarge

This is a clock which is just perfect for Les Roches.  I  just need to do a bit of research for the finish for it.

This is a very pretty selection of rugs printed on a nice weight cotton and will do well in all sorts of places.

I was looking forward to getting these as I am making flowers right now and I thought I would mass geraniums in them.  I still might but I am now considering other possibilities such as tall English lavender (the kit is in UK) or a couple of bay or olive topiaries - still to be figured out.

I saved the best, or maybe the most interesting, 'til last.  Their Lapin Sauté (leaping rabbit kits are based around a real restaurant of that name in Quebec which has a garland of terra cotta pots.  S & A have made it their own with a green garland hung with kitchen pots and pans.

This is great for me.  I want a bunch of kitchen stuff just to have in my stash ready for any project so all this will come in really handy and I want to make climbing roses or clematis on a trellis (or two) and I think the leafy swag is going to be perfect.  So as far as I am concerned I have three kits here for $10.  Good stuff.....  Oh, nearly forgot there is a useful piece of wood in there too.

For those of you who like useless information the name of the real restaurant is probably a play on the words of a children's rhyme/game/song.  Obviously they also offer rabbit dishes (sauté de lapin etc) but the name of the restaurant must evoke memories of the playground game of Le Lapin Sauté for some French people?

Le petit lapin or Le Lapin Sauté (The Little Rabbit)
Ronde à choix (Circle Game)
Un petit lapin est au centre de la ronde et les danseurs tournent autour de lui en chantant: (A little rabbit is in the center of the circle and the other children go around him singing:)
Mon petit lapin a bien du chagrin (My little rabbit is very sad)
Il ne saute plus, ne danse plus dans mon jardin (He no longer hops, no longer dances in my garden)
Puis la ronde s’arrête et les danseurs poursuivent la chanson en frappant dans leurs mains, tandis que le petit lapin se met à sauter au centre. (Then the children stop dancing around, and continue singing and clapping their hands and the little rabbit in the middle starts hopping.)
Saute, saute, saute, mon petit lapin (Hop, hop, hop, my little rabbit)
Et va-vite embrasser quelqu’un (And go quickly kiss someone)
Sur cette invitation, le petit lapin choisit un (ou une) des danseurs, l’embrasse et celui-ci le remplace dans le rôle du lapin au centre de la ronde. (At this invitation, the little rabbit chooses one of the other children , kisses him/her and that child takes the role of rabbit in the center.)

Problem with the Comment box????

There has been a problem with the Comment box.  If you couldn't use it I am sorry but I think I have fixed it now.  Please, please feel free to comment here and share with others or, if its not for sharing, by all means email me (  I usually answer either pretty quickly.  Always good to hear from you.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Quarter Scale Friends

Apologies to those of you who are following both my quarter scale blogs as you will have seen this in The Gate House already.  I had a couple of things scheduled here so it has only just made it to 'print'.  So, you can happily skip this one:

 I don't think I have ever directed you to a couple of quarter scale Yahoo Groups that I belong to, which is very remiss of me.  It is a great way to talk to like-minded souls and get a ton of help and inspiration from them and pay-back now and again when you can.  Failing that you can just join them and 'lurk'.  That is not in a yuk way, it just means you can take a look now and then at what is being talked about and still pick up a ton of helpful information.

The first group I joined is Quarter Connection.  If you click on that link it will take you to their home page where it explains the ton of stuff they do.  I have no idea how the handful of folk who organise it can do the stack of things they do for the group - I'll let you find out what's on offer for yourself.

I did do a piece about them in Dolls House and Miniature Scene back in the May issue so, if you have that, you can find out more.

The other group is The Miniature Beehive and is hosted by Bea at Petite Properties and works in a different sort of way.  It still brings a ton of ideas and help and somewhere to chatter if you want to do that.  

I suspect many people, like me, work in isolation and this can sometimes make you wonder if you are doing things right? the easiest way? have you found the best solution to a problem? etcetc.  These groups rescue you from that.

The first is primarily based in the States and the second in the UK but don't choose one over the other for either of those reasons.  I have found both indispensable in different ways.  Thanks to the internet our horizons are becoming meaningless.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Petworth Miniatures - the finale

click to enlarge

I am not sure about the chandeliers.  It will depend on how they turn out when I have finished with them.  Then it will be a big decision for me to make as to which room demands the large and which the small.  More sleepless nights.  (I am kidding, honestly).

The demi-lunes were to go either side of the connecting kitchen/dining room door with large vases of flowers or ornaments or mirrors - depends what I find at the show!  Again the room may not be large enough to take them.  Fingers crossed.  I also need to buy dining room furniture.
click to enlarge

Finally, this little group is for the study upstairs, I have seen a small desk (just need to find it again!!!)  and I have a bookcase, so if I can get all that in, that room will be complete.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Petworth Miniatures - part deux

click to enlarge

Three wallpapers, but not one of them a wallpaper!  The books' sheet I am hoping will work inside a bookcase with glass doors, otherwise I am going to have to make an awful lot of books.  I may be being very fussy (what me!) but I wish it had a more mixed appearance rather than an overall reddish tone.  There again I suspect this sort of wallpaper probably does look like that in real life whereas, as I said, I want it to do something else.

The dainty floral(ish) stripe will just come in handy for trimming furniture, making boxes, whatever.

The lovely Chinese panels paper was intended for the Salon, but won't really go with the gold furniture.  The paper demands some elements of Chinoiserie and the gold stuff is more Louis Quinze.  It may go in the dining room if I can figure out how to panel a wall and how to use it and what furniture  to buy for it??????
click to enlarge

There are two major fireplaces in Les Roches - Dining Room and Salon - I hope these don't swamp he room.  I have no way of knowing until I get home and try them in situ, so I won't be constructing these over here.  The Dining room will have the mirror and Salon will have the Clock - more gold.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Goodies from Petworth Miniatures - episode one

Generally my spending sprees get shown in The Gate House blog; the logic being that it is the primary current build.  This lot is being shared here as they are (almost all) for Les Roches.

You thought I was excited at finding the storage box (over in Gate House again) but you should have seen me when this arrived from Petworth Miniatures.  It is absolutely the one I have been waiting for.  As there are quite a lot of things, I thought I might split the Post into three parts so its not too much to read in one go.

click to enlarge

Gayle's fabrics are decidedly some of the best for scale and nice subtle colours.  

The one in the centre I already have and like so I just wanted some more.  

The top two will make great upholstery fabric without too much bulk.  

Over on the left is a lovely woven black and gold dot material.  It is the only one that I know what I am using it for.  I want gold furniture in the salon with black and gold fabric.  As these rooms are so small and will only have a couple of pieces of furniture in them, they should be able to take OTT items without it overwhelming the viewer.  I am struggling with the walls - suggestions welcome.

The remaining three pieces of cotton fabric will most likely find a place in The Gate House.

click to enlarge

This will be my gold 
furniture (with gold and black fabric) for the salon.

Thursday, 16 October 2014


It is probably kinder to myself to show my efforts before the 'reference' pictures of the real things.

These geraniums are made from a kit sold by D & K Enterprises.  I have already said what a great vendor they are.  This kit contains enough geraniums to last a lifetime unless you are creating a garden centre.  Better still, for me, it has instructions.

I tried to do exactly as I was told and here is number one geranium.  Already I am coming to the conclusion that flowers at this scale rely on the overall shape and the leaf shape to get an impression of the variety.  A lot of them will comprise of bunches of petals one way or another.

I was happy enough with that one to make another four and stagger the heights to get a feel for how they will look in a group.  I think they will do fine.

Glue disappears when dry

When you look at the 'inspiration' picture below you can see how the leaves make the plant look right.  I can see how my pretend geraniums above can look something like the real ones below - they need a mass of leaves added above the pot with these popping out here and there and they will be fine.  In terms of scale these are a very large variety of geranium which is what I wanted as I want a couple of large terracotta pots filled with them.  

I am happy to settle for plain, simple pots of geraniums.  

I also noticed doing this that the blooms actually don't have leaves that close to the flower so I will make some with leaves lower down and some with no leaves and arrange them according to their height in the pot.

Ideally I'd love to figure out how to add trailing lobelia for this sort of look:

I know it is a painting but it shows trailing blue flowers that could be lobelia and was the only one I came across.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Goodies from the Betterleys

I know I am on a non-stop spending spree right now but I am using funds I already have in a dollar account from stuff I sold here last year and monies from some 1/12th stuff I sold before leaving the UK.  So when you hear me pleading poverty and then see this lot day after day, that's why.

We may also be giving up our second (winter) home here this season so I am garnering as much as I can of the US stuff in case that happens.

So ... my Betterley package arrived...... don't forget, you can click on the photo to enlarge if you want a better look....  or a betterley look....

To go at the foot of the bed in Les Roches if there is enough room.

Looks like a Les Roches piece but may end up here in the Gate House????

You've seen these before.  This is just a restock of useful stuff.

I thought I was buying a little plastic machine; this is a kit.  That should be fun - no really - that should be fun.

Useful 'grasscloth' paper for baskets and boxes

A really nice creamy/faded toile for Les Roches bedroom

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Americana - Triple Thick Glaze

This post is to show how the triple glaze worked out but, before that, I must start with an admonition - seriously - to any newbie following this blog this is the biggest tip I can give you.....  Try to spend some of your mini spends on tools for the job.  I have a pretty measly hobby pocket and at the beginning (three years ago) I tried my best to make do with anything I already had around the house when it came to tools as I begrudged every penny not being spent on something lovely.  Here's a clue as to why you need the basics:

My kit is in the UK and no way do I want to duplicate stuff by buying it again over here.  I used a small sharp fruit knife to cut the tabs holding the pieces in their frame; this is the result.  Luckily it is easily cured with sand paper but it does add another process and it  risks snapping the pieces.  You need a decent knife......  and small sharp scissors.  I cut out the paper tile frame with curve-bladed nail scissors - need I say any more.......

I have a list of essential tools at the top of the blog you might want to check out.

On to the glaze.....

Being impatient I hate waiting for things dry.  This is even worse when something needs two or three coats to get the finish you want: tiles for example.  I wondered if this triple glaze was the answer.  It claims to do what it says - that is - give you the equivalent of three coats of a gloss finish.  I have used acrylic gloss and clear nail polish over the years and they each do the job but, generally, they need more than one coat.


It is pretty easy to get; just Google it for the nearest place to you.  Mine came from Jo-Ann' but I had a poor shopping experience with them, hence my not recommending my source.

from the kit

This is the printed paper from the kit.

one coat

This is one coat of the glaze drying.  It didn't seem to make the ink run though you could matte spray coat it first with a fixative if you were concerned.  It smells a little like nail polish but washed out of the brush with water so I assume it is acrylic and/or water soluble.  There are no brush cleaning instructions.  It took about ten minutes for me to be able to handle it OK - I imagine longer would be better - as I said, I am not patient.


It gave a good glaze, pretty clear and with a little profile so it does look quite like tiles.  As with all these things it would work really well at 1/12th but it is acceptable if you really can't bear to be doing three coats to get here.  The imperfections around the edge of the glass (it is actual mirror glass) are nothing to do with me.  I presume it comes from cutting mirror pieces that small (?).  It adds to the 'rustic' charm.  This mirror will be in Lucien and Matilde's apartment - bought on holiday in Spain.

The kit is a Petworth Miniatures one:  Tiled Mirror Kit  1/4 scale  Q830  $5

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Attacking the rose

click photo to enlarge

If you also read The Gatehouse you will have seen this box before I began filling it.  Great box with twenty-four tiny pots with screw-top lids - perfect for all those leaves and petals.  I peeled off the label from the little packets and cut out the reference number for the particular 'specimen' and stuck it to the bottom of the pot in case I want to order more any time from D and K Enterprises.

and the table was bare

Sadly all my tools/kit are in the UK so I don't have tweezers or stylus or anything particularly useful so this should be fun.....

That part was written before I actually attacked the rose!  Right now, post rose, I am controlling a lot of tears, foot-stamping and general frustration.

Here's how it went....

five (yes there are!) sepals

the three leaf arrangement that roses have

finished object not too shabby for first attempt

what a shame it is as big as his head!!!!!

do you think six of these stuffed in a vase would do???

As you can see - failure all round.  The finished rose would work OK in 1/12th and I haven't a clue how to make a 48th.  Any help would be very welcome.

Footnote the next day:

Nil desperandum....  using the head of my husband (still attached) I decided peonies were about that size so, with a bit of judicious scrunching and five more flowers added plus pointy leaves, my 'rose' might live to see another day.

huge peonies