Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Bribery works

With the prospect of being able to start the McKinley build if I can just get my Willowcrest into a more finished state, I have actually done some work on it this week.  My office is closed between Christmas and New Year so I have some time in hand to work on it.

I started with the top floor, which I have designed as a workshop area and knitting corner.  This was the easiest place to start as most of the components were already assembled and just needed to be put in place. (Although I also stuck a few more accessories into the knitting shop on the second floor).

First off, I took out most of the furniture from the top floor and stuck in some 'quilts' on the walls.  I still need to add more, but left to right these are: a print of a vintage quilt on fabric, which I sewed into a 'quilt'; a silk carpet which I thought looked like a quilt; two small cross stitch pieces which a friend gave me; another silk carpet which I trimmed down to fit above the storage cupboard; and a cross-stitch coverlet (done by machine I think) which I bought at a dollshouse show. The tiny hand stitched hexagon quilt over the stair railing is a vintage quilt I bought at an antique show.(The giant red reindeer on the outside balcony is a Christmas ornament.)

I had a bare-wood ironing board that I think I bought from Apollo Miniatures, and a bare metal iron. I painted the ironing board grey to start with.

Then I painted the tray part of the ironing board with Games Workshop Chainmail to look like silver metal.  The iron I primed with Games Workshop Foundation Paint, and then painted white, with a neon green insert and a red light. I covered the board itself with a printed fabric cover, just wrapped around and glued neatly underneath.

I positioned the ironing board behind the stair railing, where it will be accessible to all workshop users.

I had previously made five plaster copies of a resin sewing machine that I had purchased (see previous post).  This week I spent some time making them all a foot pedal, using some spare electrical wire and a piece of crown moulding cut into segments and painted white.  Once those were ready, I stuck in the workshop tables and chairs, and positioned the five workstations with their machines.

With the tables in place, I can start adding accessories to each work station, such as some tiny tape measures, some turned spools of thread, some bolts of fabric, and a tiny little thimble, and a pre-prepared sewing notions basket.  I need to add lots more, including some cutting mats.

Now I am working on the 'knitting corner' on the other side of the railing.  I had one knitting bag that I made in my old dollshouse club quite a while ago, so this morning I made up a kit from Model Village Miniatures for a second bag.  The kit comes with everything you need, including fabric, cardboard, handles, and the materials to make up some accessories including wool, 'needles', a fake pattern, segments of drinking straw, preprinted wool labels and a pre-printed tape measure.

I shouldn't complain as the kit is extremely reasonably priced, but I found the instructions for the bag rather unclear so resorted to working it out for myself.  It turned out fairly well.

Then I made up the accessories.

And this is the finished knitting bag, which will go on the floor next to the bench in the knitting corner.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas to me!

Look what Santa managed to deliver on 23 December, courtesy of the Greenleaf company sale!
It's the 1/12th scale McKinley wall-hung dollshouse kit, which I've always wanted, plus the Diana which is one of the newer birchwood laser cut 1/24th scale Victorian houses.

For the benefit of any UK readers, I will go into a bit more detail about what was involved in ordering this from the States. 

When I got the sales notification, I emailed Greenleaf directly to ask how much international shipping to the UK would be.  For these two kits, they quoted c. $110.  From the paperwork included with the box, it looks like this was based on the United States Postal Service Priority main International Rate / Commercial Base Pricing.  The large but thin box was posted on 6 December from Greenleaf.

Around 16 December, I received a card in the post from UK Parcelforce Worldwide to say that a parcel had arrived from overseas and was subject to Customs charges.  On the declared value of $130, they charged the following:

Customs Duty:  zero
Excise Duty: zero
Import VAT (Value Added Tax) £30.17
Other: zero
Clearance Fee: £8
Total £38.17

I paid this fee online using a credit card at, and was able to specify my delivery date.  I picked 23 December because I knew I would be home that day, but I could have had it earlier.  The parcel was delivered to my door early on 23 December.

This means that my total expenses for these two houses are:
Purchase at 25% discount in sale, plus shipping (c.$110): $245.72 (c. £157.61)
VAT/Clearance fee: £38.17
Total: £195.78

Considering that I don't think you can get either of these houses in the UK at the moment, and that Elora Dollshouses in Canada (who come up in Google results over here as UK shippers) would have charged CAN $192 just to send the McKinley over here (c £120), I think my purchase compares favourably.  Also favourably against the price of UK-made house kits, although I am on weaker ground there as the McKinley is still the rubbish mahogany diecut plywood.  Now that I have bought one, Greenleaf will no doubt issue this in spanking new laser cut birch ply.

Now I must exert superhuman willpower and not start building the McKinley until I have done a better job on finishing up the Willowcrest.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas comes but once a year

I have a lot of Christmas decorations, but this year our real tree is about two feet shorter than last year due to significant price increases and I didn't have room for all my ornaments.  I was looking for somewhere to put this set of ceramic Alice in Wonderland ornaments when my eye fell upon my Willowcrest front yard. 

Look who's come to browse the fabric and yarn sale!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

It's Miniatura time!

Yes, it was Miniatura time again, which embarrassingly seems to be the only time I blog on here.  But I've pretty much finished up my Fairfield build, so perhaps I will be able to continue with the Willowcrest when I get more time to do minis again.

Anyway, I had a lovely day up at the NEC in Birmingham, going around one of the UK's largest miniatures fairs.  I was mainly looking for 1:24th scale accessories for the Fairfield, but I ended up getting several things for the Willowcrest.

I was pleased to find all of these modern resin figures, including two that are actually knitting!!  They were on the Jennifer's of Walsall stand.  Normally I only see figures in Victorian costume, but these will make great customers for the store, and the knitters can go into the 'knitters' corner' on the top floor workshop area.  The man with the coffee cup might go behind the counter and be staff, although I need to make him look a bit older as he looks far too young to even be drinking coffee, much less working in a store. I also got the little vacuum cleaner there, because stores usually have those to clean up with at the end of the day.

I made most of my bolts of fabric for my quilt shop myself, but I couldn't resist being lazy and buying some more from Shepherd Miniatures, as well as the basket of fat quarter fabric pieces.

The 'No Smoking' and 'Private' signs are for the shop, as is the solid oak footstool which was an astonishingly cheap .80p from a stand selling mainly Tudor furniture. 

The kits at the front for three display stands and a knitting bag are all from Model Village Miniatures, who don't have a website but they do mail order and here are their details:

I got some other nice things for other houses, which are on my main blog here.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

It's a miracle

Yes, I am actually posting here.  Just to say that I have made a few jugs from paper using printables, which will go in the quilt shop as 'artistic decor'.  You can read about it on this short post on my Fairfield blog.

The Willowcrest has been weighing increasingly on my 'guilt' button, more and more I feel like I should be working on it and getting it to a more finished state.  I'm almost 'finished' the Fairfield (are they ever finished) so I think after that I will try to return to the Willowcrest and clear up some of the chaos on the ground floor.

Thanks to anyone who is still hanging in there!