Monday, 23 February 2015

Some Flower Kits From Far Away and Beams are Finally Up........

I have recently come across a really helpful group on FaceBook, Making Dolls House Flowers in all Scales, which is full of wonderful artists and hobbyists who are really generous with their advice and tips. I saw some lovely flowers by Kathy Brindle and discovered that she has a range of her own kits. I asked if she would be kind enough to sell me a selection of her range and today I received them all the way from Western Australia. Quicker than some UK Ebay sellers! 
I have chosen a selection of white kits as I can then paint them in any colour I choose. I am hoping to have a go at one of the kits tomorrow depending on my progress with the chimney stacks for the Honeydukes roof. 
 After many days of cutting and painting the beams have been glued onto the walls of the attic.
 I have also fitted some LED strip lighting behind the false back wall. I am not sure how effective this will be but it will provide some ambient light if nothing else.
Today I have been working on the tall, skinny chimneys for the roof. Getting the angle right on my table saw proved rather challenging to say the least and I seem to have quite a lot of strangely shaped off cuts in my bin! Now I have the correct angle set I am hoping the dormer windows will not prove quite so problematic. 
I also need to fit the hinges for the front roof panel, a task I am gearing myself up for. I have missed a trick with the roof and should not have designed it with the whole piece lifting but it is too late now.
Oh well, wish me luck.

Friday, 20 February 2015

A Finished Project....I am feeling "In The Pink"

My work is done........well mine and all the wonderful food artists I have showcased in this little room box by Dolls House Emporium. It has been a real pleasure to do and I would certainly recommend that anyone who is involved in big projects to take some time out when the going gets tough, step aside and take on a tiny project.
The door opens to show off some extra goodies.
 This is a very shallow box so there was no need for any furniture it has been all about the window.
 I have been able to purchase the work of a number of very talented food artists and I think my little room box highlights their wonderful work.
 These are: Paris MiniaturesMundo RosaPetit D'Licious and Lory
 Another great thing about such a small project is that it can be put on show anywhere in the house without taking up loads of space. In The Pink is destined for my downstairs toilet where it can provide a talking point for any guests and visitors!
 While I have been having fun, I have become a teeny bit addicted to miniature sweet things which has progressed into planning another room box. To be fair it has been on the back burner for a while but I have decided it will definitely be brought forward.
I intend to do a Mad Hatter's Tea Party this year with as many characters as I can get and a tea table that will be a mixture of everyone I love best and some items by me as usual. I want to give it a slight twist so the table will be in four sections with cakes, table flowers and china for each season of the year. What do you think? Will it work or just look like a mess? 
Oh the planning is such fun.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

What to do About the Honeydukes Attic? Goodies in the Post and Some Rock Candy......

I have been working on the beams today which mostly involves a lot of painting followed by a lot of drying time. Not very exciting but one of those jobs that have to be done. I have dirtied up the attic space above Honeydukes.
 This is about as grungy as I get. I might darken up some of the corners a bit more once the beams go in but I don't want it to be too dark and the finish is a bit darker than the photos.
 I have also given the top of the staircase a bit of a dirtying too, again it looks 'worse' in person, not quite as pink. I can't really decide what to do with this space. Originally I was going to make it into a sweet making area, then I thought I might just turn it into a storage area then today I thought it might be more interesting as a rest nook for the owners ad their staff. Maybe a little cosy seating area surrounded but towering, gravity defying, boxes and crates full of Honeydukes treats and sweets. Hmmm, I can think about this while I am tackling the roof and its dormer windows and chimneys.
The last piece for my "In The Pink" cake showcase arrived today from Petit D'Licious. I am a sucker for pretty packaging. I always think it shows that the seller really values their work and you as a customer when they put time and thought into your first impression of their work. This little cake arrived beautifully wrapped as you can see.
 The little sponge biscuits are so carefully made and it will look perfect in my shop box window. It is the last piece for the window shelves.......Yep, I have actually finished a project! Full photo tour tomorrow!!
 Oh, the green lid is off a small plastic box that I buy in packets of six from Poundland (six for a pound, my word!), and they are perfect for mixing up small amounts of paint and washes that you might want to keep handy for a few days, or for storing leftover fimo and probably a whole host of other crafty uses.
On the subject of Poundland......the last time I was there I bought a pack of something in the nail section that I thought might be good for rock candy sticks. I think it is pieces of coloured, crushed shell.
I still have enough left for maybe two more in each colour which is not bad for a pound. The colours aren't great and I think the sticks I used might be a bit too clumpy but........I think they will look fine standing in a jar and part of a whole grouping.
Off to buy a spirit level tomorrow, mine seems to have gone walkies in the move, ready to put in the beams I have been working on this week.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Let There Be Light......Honeydukes and Lighting a Dolls House.

I have never really got on with dolls house lighting, it is fiddly, frustrating and flipping expensive to my mind. Despite having a number of houses it has always been a bit of a challenge and I have never really planned it very well which is part of the problem I suppose. In recent times I have settled for LED strips which are much easier to install and the odd battery light.
When planning Honeydukes I decided it needed a plan and as I had designed the house from scratch there was no excuses.
The first floor is completely removable and here is my basic wiring plan for the shop floor ceiling lights. Putting in ceiling lights is a whole new ball game for me and to do it properly you have to route out a channel for the wires so they will sit under the flooring.
I have a Dremel with a router attachment which to be honest seemed to have a life of its own but somehow I managed to carve out the necessary channels for the five ceiling lights. 
I pulled all the wires through and then have held them in place with masking tape to keep them flat.
The lights in place also have a tiny bit of tacky wax to hold them flat to the ceiling. Not sure if this is the best way to do this as tacky wax can dry out but I couldn't think of any better way.
 The lights are from my favourite light suppliers Small World Products. I buy most of my lighting supplies from them as I am a terrible creature of habit and I like their whole system.
 This is the Power Centre that is part of their wiring system and is the easiest of lighting supplies I have discovered after much frustration and swearing. I know that real dolls house makers swear by the copper tape system which is incredibly neat and tidy but this system, while not tidy, is simple. 
 The Power Centre is screwed to the back of the house and you attach each wire within it own slot. All you need is a small screwdriver to tighten each slot. This centre will power 50 bulbs and a whole lot more LED's which is more than enough for me. The website explains it a whole lot better than me! Obviously you still have the problem of the wiring at the back of your house and I know there are lots of ways to hide all this but I have enough trouble finishing my projects as it is so tidying up the wiring will be a very long term plan!
One big rule......check each light as you attach the wiring that way you don't install all your lights and then discover one doesn't work, it can be a right pain to work out which wire belongs to which light once they are all in their slots. Oh, and you have to use a 12v power source which connects the power to the centre. 
 Ta dah!! Here they are in all their wonderful glory, so pleased with the look. Just what I wanted for Honeydukes, all bold and brassy.
What a great day it's been. The sun has been shining, for the first time this year I played tennis without freezing my backside off and the lights are fab-u-lous. What more can a girl ask for?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Why is it That Enough is Never Enough......Honeydukes and Its Glass Jars.

Dress rehearsal day today so I started by separating the sweets that are part of the Harry Potter books. I haven't made that many so far but eventually they will have a display unit of their own and will be the only labelled sweet jars.
 I have been collecting hand blown glass jars in a variety of shapes and sizes over the past two years for this project and was of the opinion I had far more than I needed. I have bought my glass from a variety of suppliers: Glasscraft MiniaturesMy Tiny World and Valerie Claire Miniatures, being my favourites.
 I intend to fill the shelves above the windows with a variety of sweets and a centre piece like this wonderful chocolate Easter bunny by Nikki Rowe.
This shelf has Nikki's ice cream cupcakes and will be joined by packaged sweetie specials. I bought these little display packages at the Dutch dolls house fair a couple of years ago and had forgotten how great they are. They look a bit over sized here but that's only the angle. Sadly I can't remember the seller but if anyone knows who it is I would love to know.
 I spent a lot of time today staring and thinking, staring and moving jars, staring and thinking. I have finally decided to fill the shelves above the shop displays in groups of different colours. 
 So.....these will be all pink....
 .......these will be chocolate, except they won't stay in this corner as I want to stack HP boxed sweets here, they will go on top of another unit.
 There is space next to the lemon sweets. As you can see there is a lot of empty shelving here. How can I not have enough jars by now, this shop seems to be the black hole of sweet jars.
The white unit is the base for the iconic Bertie Botts tubes display.
The staircase will be lined with various jars and the bottom circle will be home to lollipops and sweet tubes.
 I have decided on this as a final layout. The single unit will be full of candy canes of all colours, they might take me some time but they are something I can make myself!! I am also going to put them in either plastic tubes or the cheaper mass produced jars as I think as this is a side unit I can economise a bit here!! 
 Little candy jars will line the staircase, not a lot of Health and Safety rules in the world of wizards!
I have ordered some more jars today but I still don't think I will have enough so I have raided my potions collection and soaked a few jars to remove their contents so I can use them in Honeydukes.
I had hoped to give the attic another dirty was today but some how I completely ran out of time. To much staring and thinking and not enough doing methinks!
I have now emptied the shop.....again, in preparation for lots of construction work both inside and out over the next week, including the installation of the dreaded lights.
Glorious spring-like day was enjoyed by both me and the dogs, long may it last.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Honeydukes Re-Opens.......Time to Get Cracking.

It's been a while now since I worked on my Hogsmeade Honeydukes but today I decided to get going on the list of small finishing jobs I had written to myself when I packed everything away before Christmas.
As you can see there is still quite a lot to do.
 I haven't really decided what to do with the upper floor yet. I am leaning towards a store room area much like what is in the basement of the books so I need it to be rather more grungy than the pristine shop floor. My Honeydukes is modelled after the one at Universal Studios rather than the one seen in the film so I am allowed a little licence with the contents.
So my first job on the list was to give the walls of the first floor and the top of the spiral staircase a bit of a dirty wash. 
 The ceiling is very high and sloping so I have decided to add beams for a bit of added interest. So I have cut various pieces, added wormholes and ageing and given them a silvery undercoat. I am not quite sure what the final design will be so I have left some of the lengths long. I will add more colour tomorrow once the wood dries thoroughly.
For the first time I have put in a removable floor in order to hide the wires for the lighting fixtures in the main shop on the ground floor. The edge on the left hand side wasn't quite as well cut as it should have been and you could see the underneath so I have removed the offending floorboards and replaced them with a much better fit. I now need to wax these. One more item off the list.
 When I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour I noticed that in various settings there as a continual repetition of the same props. Although the eye might take in 50 vases in various cabinets if you look closely there are in fact only 10 different vase but they may be of different sizes or finish. 
When I started Honeydukes I thought I would have totally different sweets in every jar but now I realise this isn't necessary and in fact repetition is a useful staging trick. 
This led me to filling up some jars today with leftover sweets from previously filled jars. This shop needs loads of jars everywhere so this will make things a lot easier. 
 I have also used clay canes from various suppliers including various chocolate canes from My Tiny World. These work quite well in the jars and certainly are a quick fix.
What I really need to do now is work out how many jars I have, where they are going to go and how many more I still need. I think I need to have a dress rehearsal and produce a proper plan of work tomorrow otherwise I will end up with far more than I need and none of the things I want!
Loads of rain here today but me and the dogs were snug as bugs in the workshop, can't tell you how much I love my den at the end of the garden.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Why Do Printers Hate Me? Oh, and Tulips by Bonnie Lavish Kits......

When I moved into my new workshop I decided to donate my HP all in one printer to the family once and for all. That printer hated me from day one and never worked when I needed it to so I was glad to see the back of it. Plus it's huge and glowers at me and I wanted a petit user friendly one with which I could become friends.
So I bought a compact Epson one. We had an Epson many years ago and I am sure I got on with that one. This afternoon with the rain battering down I decided to set up the new printer to work with my Mac. Well suffice to say I am not at all convinced this blooming printer is going to like me anymore than the HP.
Only time will tell!!
I have, however, managed to make some tulips. I am a huge fan of the kits by Bonnie Lavish who has unfortunately for all of us recently retired. Good job I have quite a few tucked away!!
 They are very easy to understand and each pack contains everything you need, well except for the fingers of a pianist and patience!! I have started to only buy kits in white as they can be painted whatever colour you fancy.
 I have used a pale pink acrylic wash and then tipped each petal with a pink watercolour pencil for added effect. No matter how basic the flower kit is, they are still fiddly and I 'lost' two of the stamens and tulip heads due to over washing and rather too casual knife skills.
 This has still left me with ten tulips which I think is very good value from a kit that was about a fiver I think. I also washed the leaves in two different green acrylic washes and sealed everything with a matt acrylic varnish/sealer before I curled them all with a ball stylus. I stupidly glued the leaves too far down the stem for tulips, they should really be much closer to the flower head but never mind.
I decided to try out a few of them in a glass beaker with caviar beads for my cake box. I decided to drop Judkins Diamond Glaze on top of the beads to keep them in and provide a glued 'soil' for the tulips. Hmmmm, not sure that worked as well as it might have done. As you can see a few beads have still made there way onto the stems.
One more item for the shelves, although I have painted a flower pot as well for planting so I will make that up with some more of the tulips and then decide which one looks best.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend whether it rains or shines.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Busy,Busy, Busy in my Showcase Cake Box.......

A slightly later post than expected this evening as I have spent hours searching for a miniature sweet supplier in the UK. I am looking for fake sugar and sprinkles for Honeydukes but have been unable to find a UK site. Lots of US sites but postage plus all our UK import charges make buying from the US prohibitive for small priced items. So now I have given up and ordered some fine glitter.
On the brighter side I have had a wonderful day in my workshop.
 I have been making jars of meringues using moulds. These moulds are great but they are certainly an investment, I get mine from Etsy normally but I have noticed more and more for sale a lot cheaper at fairs recently. You can also make your own at home using various mould making materials I have seen in Hobbycraft.
 My eldest son bought me a little, diddy oven for Christmas to go in my workshop. Perfect for baking clay.
 240 mini meringues of various sizes later I harvested just two jars, one for the cakeshop and one for Honeydukes. Goodness gracious is that all!! Hats off to all those wonderful food artists out there, how do they do it?!
 Having got into the swing I decided to keep out the pink clay and have a go at filling the display boxes I got from The Art of Mini for Honeydukes. I used tiny micro cutters in three different shapes after rolling out three layers of clay in two shades of pink and white for the middle of the sandwich.
 They all ended up in their own boxes that I sealed with the glue I use for windows to try and avoid glue marks on the plastic. For my very basic decoration I have used pale pink and silver caviar beads and a very fine white glitter. 
I now need to add ribbon and a label of some sort and they will be finished. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. 
 As usual I ended up with a pile of leftover fimo so I made a little pink sandwich cake that I hope won't disgrace my cakeshop!! 
I am in the process of collecting tiny embellishments at the moment from my new favourite shop, Poundland. These are my star buy this week from the Nail Art section. Teeny packs of self-sticking gems. I am sure I will be able to find a use for them one day!! See this is what happens when there is one empty drawer left in the workshop!!
I also made some tulips today but I am exhausted by my googling marathon tonight so they will have to wait for my next post.