Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Purchases at the Tom Bishop Madrid show

I went to the Tom Bishop miniatures show in Madrid last weekend for the first time, as part of a fast but fun city break for the weekend.  I enjoyed the show and picked up a few things for the Willowcrest.

The two waste bins and the basket are for the Willowcrest.  They're made of card, decorated with decals, paint and gloss varnish.

This log cabin stitched pillow will go on the sofa in the top floor workshop room.

These sewing supplies will either go onto one of the workshop tables or into the window display.

Otherwise, I'm afraid this house has been hibernating for a while, I haven't been doing much dollshousing for several months now.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

1950s sewing machine

I've put together the sewing machine kit that I bought at the Arnhem dollshouse show from Sylvia's Lutjebeudel.  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

They provided me with a sheet of English instructions when I bought the kit.  The kit has everything you need except tools and glue.  There is a plastic sewing machine body and base, two pieces of wood for the double sub-base, metallic decals, and a photocopied sheet of floral graphics. The instructions were straightforward and there was an accompanying sheet of diagrams which clarified measurements and assembly details.

After shaping and assembling the sub-base with tacky glue, and assembling the sewing machine with Zap-a-Gap, it was time to start painting. The instructions sensibly recommend that you paint different-coloured components separately and assemble them at the end. The blue paint is a stamping paint that I bought from the bargain bin at Hobbycraft a few years ago, the white acrylic is Americana 'White wash' and the silver paint is Games Workshop 'Chain Mail'.

After final assembly, the metallic decals and floral graphic are added, and then I gave it a couple of coats of gloss varnish and added some fine thread to give the illusion of a spool of thread on top.

For the moment, I've positioned it on the bottom shelf of a display unit that still needs filling up, in the quilt shop.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Catching up

I've been doing a fair bit of dollshouse related activity, just not specifically on the Willowcrest. I went to the Kempton Park dollshouse fair and then I went on a Mulvany and Rogers Masterclass.  This weekend I went to the Arnhem dollhouse fair where I did get some knitting items, knitted sweaters (bargain!!), some spools of thread, and a kit to make a sewing machine - all for theWillowcrest. You can read about the visit on my main blog here and if you scroll down the posts a bit then you will see the Georgian room box I built on my masterclass.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

'Quilted' jacket

Today I made a 'quilted' jacket to hang on a wire mannequin form that I bought some years ago for this purpose. Quilting shops usually have quilted garments on display so I knew that I wanted one for my shop.

This is one of those cheap white-painted-wire constructions, but I like the base and the mannequin pivots on the central stem.

I spray painted it silver by wedging a pen into the neck as a temporary holder.

I have a collection of fabrics that look like miniature quilts, which I put together a few years ago knowing I would need lots of 'quilts' for this shop.  I chose one with miniature Lone Stars to use a feature on the back panel of the jacket, and one that looks like small piecing.  The pattern is from 'Making and Dressing Dollshouse dolls' by Sue Atkinson, and is a boxier version of the Ladies' basic bodice pattern plus I reduced the fullness on the sleeves.  I assembled the back panel by gluing the small pieced fabric around the Lone Star.

I added some patch pockets cut from a third 'quilty' fabric. The hems are glued, but the shoulder and side seams are stitched on the machine using a short stitch length.

Of course, now that I've loaded the pictures onto the computer, now I see that the jacket had slipped to one side on the mannequin before I took the photo.  Grrrr.

And here's a picture looking in the front door of the shop - excuse the flash, I took this in the evening and there wasn't sufficient natural light.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

More clientele

The Lego cash register has been very popular, thanks for your comments.  I bet there are lots of things that could be made out of Lego and then disguised to look appropriate for the dollshouse.

I've now finished the final three dolls that I am upcycling.  The shops now look fairly well populated although there should perhaps be another staff person.  I will keep my eyes open for a decent doll to be a shop assistant.  I do have some other dolls in my stash but unlike these dolls it is their heads and limbs that look mutated, not just their hideous clothes, so no good for this project.

Here is the 'before' picture.

The doll at the left wasn't that bad apart from fur-like hair and a gravity-defying cardigan.  I tamed the cardigan with some hidden stitching, and glued some additional hair onto her head right over the old hair.  There wasn't much I could do about her silhouette which suggests she is wearing the mother of all push-up bras - it's because of the edge of the china head plate across her chest.

The other two dolls are ultra-cheap dolls dressed in hot-glued travesties which I immediately removed.  Amusingly they had glued on lace underwear, which seems a surprising amount of detail considering how hideous their dresses were.  And their bodies are actually quite nice, full china bodies with moving arms and legs. I tried doing something with their nylon hair, but it was too springy so I had to scrape it off.  Their heads have a hollow in them.  I decided that they deserved to be in skirts and dresses to show off their well formed legs.

I've discovered that despite my large stash of ripped-out magazine articles on dressing dolls, and my library of dollshouse books, I don't actually appear to have any modern clothing patterns.  So I had to wing it.  For the first doll, I made a sort of shift dress cut on the bias from very thin cotton denim, and used some of the rick-rack trim from the travesty dress for a belt.  I added a leather handbag I had in my stash, and some blond hair.

For the second doll, I made a blue velvet mini skirt, and then stretched my doll-dressing skills to the limit by constructing a Liberty-style blouse with collar.  For the hair, I tied the centre of a hank of hair tightly with thread, and glued the resulting lump into the hole in the head.  Once that dried, I arranged the hair with a bit more glue around the hairline, then gave her a modern hair cut.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

1:12 scale Cash Register / Till from Lego

I've been looking for a modern cash register for my quilt shop for a long time.  I could only find two for sale online, a British one which wasn't very detailed and an American one which seemed rather expensive.  There is a card printable cash register on Jim's Printables, but I didn't think I could get it to look very realistic.  So I decided I would have to make my own.

Step one was to have a protracted dig in my son's large box of discarded Lego (he has now grown out of it).  After a long search, I came up with the following components.

The two bases are quite thin, only one 'bump' high.  I put one on top of the other to simulate a cash drawer, added the slanted bits to be the keyboard, and topped it with the four-bump bar, and capped off the bumps with the two smooth caps. 

Meanwhile, I was also looking for a bit of Lego to use for a credit card machine.  I didn't find anything, so I had a dig through various other junk boxes and came up with a discarded dollshouse electric plug.

I pulled out the wire and the pins, and cut the plug in half using a razor saw.

To make the sides of the credit card machine, I used one small punched card circle (the size of a hole punch for a ring binder) for the end, and cut two side pieces from a larger punched card circle.

Then I sprayed both assemblies with grey car primer.

To add the detail, I searched on Google Images under 'cash register screen' for the keyboard, 'cash register customer pole display' for the readout, and 'credit card machine' for the credit card machine keyboard.  I shrank the images I found down to the appropriate size, and printed them out on an inkjet printer.  Then I sealed them with DecoArt Multi Sealer, and glued them on using PVA glue.  I also added a poster for quilt classes to the customer side of the register, and a tiny 'crystal' to be the keyhole of the cash drawer.

Friday, 10 February 2012

More dolls

As well as the resin figures covered in the last post, I have five china-head dolls that I had picked up cheaply in sales bins at shows.  They obviously don't look as realistic but I am hopeful I can use them to add more customers to the quilt and knitting shops.

I will put my hand up and admit that dressing dolls is not my forte.  If I'm on a course with a teacher to guide me, then I can turn out a reasonable product.  Left to my own devices, I generally end up with something that looks more like a mutant.

Here are the 'before' pictures.

The doll at the right is wearing a hand-knit jumper that I bought separately.  She was the least in need of attention, so I started with her.

I stripped off the remains of her blouse and took off the trousers.  They were way too big, with a crotch that was about half an inch too low.  So I raised the crotch and slimmed down the legs with some stitching.

I also cut off the waistband and re-stitched the front and back seams to reduce excess.

Then I put it back on the doll, hand stitched the pleats in again, and gathered up the waist.

As she was suffering from a major bad hair day, I trimmed up the hair with nail scissors and then sprayed her whole head with hair spray to smooth down the fly-aways.

Then the handknit jumper went back on.

Now she is having a good dig into the sales bin in the knitting shop.

The next mutant to receive some attention was the older bag lady in the head scarf.  I stripped off all of her clothes, and peeled off her wild hot-glued hair mop.  I had some grey hair in my stash already formed into ripples, so I glued some of that on to create a hairstyle, and added some bead earrings.

For her clothing, I cut up an old cardigan. I used a bit of the ribbed collar for her skirt, and then cut a pattern out of kitchen paper towel for her tunic top.

I cut the tunic out all in one piece, hemmed under the cuffs at the wrist, and applied glue along the cut edge of the back and front to stop fraying.  Then I cut a slit for the neck, and sewed the side seams on the sewing machine.  I wasn't sure what to do with the neckline, as I thought trying to turn it under would be too bulky.  So I glued on some mini rickrack.  I'm not entirely happy with it, perhaps I should have tried to do a collar.

And here she is, taking part in the quilting workshop on the top floor.

Two dolls was all that I had time for, so three more to go.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

All dolled up

There are two big jobs I have been putting off on this house, and today I finally started one of them.  The other job will be to make loads of precise small quilts to hang from the ceiling.  But today I tackled the doll population.

I'm not always convinced about dolls in a dollshouse, partly because the ones I can afford don't look very realistic.  Some of my houses have them, some of them don't.  But I felt that part of the ambience of a quilting and knitting shop is to have lots of customers and staff, so I have been picking up cheap resin figures and cheap dolls when I've seen them over the past few years.

I knew it was time to tackle the dolls when DH asked why there were so many 'corpses' littering the shop floor.  We decided that the psychopath must be the guy with the coffee cup as he looked far too young to be drinking coffee and too calm about being surrounded by dead bodies.


So today I tackled re-painting the resin figures.  These are relatively crudely painted in the first place, so there was a fair bit of touching up to do where paint had slopped on the wrong surface or hadn't fully covered.  Also, I had some duplicate figures which I wanted to make look different.  This was surprisingly time consuming and while the results are not perfect, they aren't bad for an average £8 per figure. All touching up was done with Games Workshop acrylic paints. I did find that some of these dolls aren't the same scale, with obvious size differences when you put them next to each other.

I started with the psychopath gentlemen.  The guy on the right who will be a husband just needed touching up plus I painted his t-shirt grey.  The store clerk got darker hair, less effeminate eyebrows, tidier shoes, and a nametag which reveals his name is Cam.

For the knitter, I tidied her up, gave her silver shoe buckles, made her hair and eyebrows greyer to match her wrinkles and reduced the size of her staring pupils.  The shopper in yellow got her bra show-thru toned down, another strap on her sandals, and a tidy up.  Shopper on the right got a tidy up, a blonder hair  colour and improved shoes.

I wanted this other knitter to look younger, despite the wrinkles, so I darkened her hair and gave her a fringe (bangs) which looks awful in this picture but looks more convincing in the dollshouse. I darkened her skirt a little, changed the neckline of her jumper and gave her different shoes.

This figure isn't great to start with, her head is too small and a bit squashed looking.  I wanted the duplicates to look different. I tidied up the left figure, repainted her 'fabric' stack, reduced the size of her pupils and tried to make her eyebrows look less surprised.  She is staff so also got a nametag after I took this picture.  The shopper on the right got blue jeans, a turquoise top, socks, red shoes, blonde hair, different lipstick and makeup, blonde eyebrows.  As a finishing touch, I glued a real leather handbag strap over her arm, cutting it so it looks like it is hanging from her arm.

Another pair of duplicates.  The one on the right just got a tidy up, and a quilting magazine to hold (I trimmed it so it fit into the crook of her arm).  The one on the left got tights, new shoes, a red cardigan, brunette hair, and a handknit scarf.

By this time I had run out of energy so the dressed dolls will have to wait for another day. But I enjoyed sticking the results of my labours into the Willowcrest.