Saturday, July 4, 2020

A Belated Birthday Invitation

"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley"
                                                                              Robert Burns

I had, of course, planned a lovely party for my 40th, but the current situation sadly ended that.  So I thought I'd celebrate on the small scale, and invite you to celebrate with me.  

Alas!  The birthday cake I had ordered in what I'd thought was good time, only arrived three weeks after the Big Event!  Well, let's celebrate now...

We're in the walled garden for a tea party - (the garden is a work in progress, so don't look too hard!)

The bunting is up, the table is laid, and there are some lovely presents to unwrap...

The cake is a lovely  tiered sponge with summer fruits from pixiestyxminiatures. I didn't add candles, because, well, 40 candles is an awful lot for a small cake!

There are also religieuse cakes stuffed full of cream, a summer fruits jelly from Irinaminiatures, macarons and wine from Hoclaire.

I had a great time making the presents.  I used various templates that I found on Pinterest, and a download from easyprintandcut. I added 2mm silk ribbon, and filled them with seed beads to give them a good weight.

The bunting was also great fun to make, I found a fabulous source at Wings of Whimsy.

Well, after tea, let's open some presents...

Gosh! What a lot!  I'm feeling very spoilt...

And here's someone who also likes presents, so much so that he's just squashed them.  Thanks Edgar!

Here's a beautiful floral painting by Andrew Nicholls, very hard to come by, but always lovely.

Oh my goodness! I've been looking for these for the longest time! Two Staffordshire spaniels, or as we kno them in Scotland, 'Wally Dugs'... made by Avon Miniatures, no less.

Some lovely frames from Malcolm Hall...

Oh, and I don't believe it!  Another Andrew Nicholls floral painting!  That's so wonderful!  I love the frame, this one is definitely going to go in the Drawing Room, in pride of place.

I'm feeling very spoilt already, but this tea caddy from Malcolm Hall is just exquisite.  I'm very humbled by the generosity of my friends and family...

A divine pair of  silver sea monster candle sticks...

and a matching dish and spoon by Dimitry Shevchenko.  Just too lovely...

This is a fabulous harpsichord for the Music Room by Masters Miniatures, the finish is just perfect...

This is a marvellous four poster bed by Dick Warren - I can't wait to get my needle and thread out to dress it!  Edgar is looking more than disinterested though...  But he has woken up for this one, and I don't blame him...

I'm a little speechless.  It's a clock that I have dreamed of owning for over a decade.  It is by Keith at Small Time.

Such beautiful burl wood and finials.  It will complete the Dining Room, and be a great reminder of both my 40th birthday, and the person who gave it to me, my wonderful husband. (However The Mog has lost interest again, because it isn't a mouse, and you can't eat it...)

I'm feeling very happy that so many of my friends and family made the effort to give me miniature things.  Miniatures are not the most of usual things, and it has obviously taken a lot of leg work, phone calls and research to give me such wonderful surprises.  I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

But I also like to give, and I wanted to show my appreciation to my fellow miniaturists who do understand the importance of the tiniest things. Also, what birthday party is complete without some fun and games?

 So I did a 'Gave-Away'.  

I chose four items that I have made, one for each decade of my life.

Then I put everyone's name in a dish who had commented on my blog this year...

Enlisting the impartial help of Son II, we did a draw to see who would receive a surprise present.  The tension and excitement were palpable...

First out of the dish was.... Sheila!

Next was....


Now for the winners of the evening bags....


And last, but in no ways least .....


What an excitement!  If you have won, please contact me by the email address in my profile, so I know if you would like me to send you your prize.

Thank you for coming to my birthday party, remember to take a slice of cake home with you!


Friday, June 5, 2020

What effrontery!

Daviot House has a new front door.  In fact, it has a new facade, and a couple of new levels too!

Due to the demands of a growing family, my workroom had to move to the attic (don't worry, it has been converted!).  This meant that I had to change Daviot House's dimensions.  No longer a sprawling house, it has become an imposing Scottish tower house.

  But this suits me well.  This way the house has a smaller footprint, and I now have a grand total of 15 rooms to play with!  ;D

I don't think I have talked about the inspiration for Daviot House for a while, so I thought I'd show you a few properties that influence me.

I love the Scottish architecture of the 17th century, when houses had to be well protected, but also aspired to be homes.  It is an architecture that has more connections with continental Europe than England at this time, from painted ceilings to crow-stepped gables.  

Traquair House - a fantastic example of a Scottish vernacular house with a long history.  It escaped the 'baronialisation' of the Victorian period when architects built on added-extras to give buildings more 'Walter Scott' romanticism.  Traquair House, thank goodness,still has its lovely austere facade (and a really fascinating history.  Also a great teashop!)

This is Northfield House in Prestonpans, which after a long period of neglect was restored recently (and is currently for sale, for those of you with deep pockets!).  I love the eccentric style, you can see the changes this house has undergone over the centuries.  

Scottish vernacular reached its height in the 17th century, before the classical symmetry of Palladianism changed architecture completely.  Often these houses were extended by different generations, and the result is a delightful mix of fortifications and home comforts (look at that chimney!)

Hamilton House, also in Prestonpans, is delightful though much lower in height, it has a lovely courtyard.

One of my absolute favourites is Prestonfield House in Edinburgh.  It has the most fabulous gables, and has undergone many architectural changes over the centuries. 

 The original front door was on the left, and the old side of the house was converted into the front entrance in the 18th century, to give that all important symmetry.  The portico was also added for extra grandeur.  

If you are ever in Edinburgh, I highly recommend a visit for afternoon tea, but mostly to aprecciate the atmosphere and decoration of the interior (and to see if you can spot the plaster hand in the ceiling decoration, which looks as if it might come alive!)

All of these houses have one thing in common, they have continued to evolve architecturally, which makes them so interesting.  So of course, I thought I'd do something similar to Daviot House.

The door was just a simple standard door, so I thought I'd make it a bit grander.  After all, what started as a two storey house needs a bit more of a 'big entrance'.  I used watercolours to see what sort of dimensions would be good.  I also wanted something baroque in feel.

That's better, much bigger, and topped off with an extravagant pediment by Sue Cook.  Ideally I'd like a thistle, but a pineapple on the top will have to do for now...

These are examples of marriage stones, which were very popular over the entrance door of many houses.  The practice died out in the 19th century, sadly, but I love trying to spot them when I'm out and about.  Usually they have the initials of the couple, and the year.  Quite simple, but some could be more detailed.

I am fortunate enough to trace my maternal family's tree back to 1716, when my great x 7 grandfather, Alexander MacGillivray married Isobel Rose.  I've cheated a little with the dates, but I thought it would be nice to put their names over the door of Daviot House.

I wonder what they would have thought about having their marriage commemorated on the front of a doll's house in France over 300 hundred years later!

and now a few steps up with wrought iron railings to welcome you in...

And I just couldn't resist the lanterns!  Bringing Daviot House firmly into the 18th century...

Here you can see the different stages.  I have nearly completed the ground floor facade, and have started the second floor.  The third floor is still very forlorn!

I think this is certainly the final shape of the house, as you can see we have reached the ceiling!

I haven't abandoned the kitchen just yet, and I wanted to thank you for your lovely comments on my last post.  I am still trying to sort blogger out, and will let you know when commenting resumes!


Thursday, May 21, 2020

A Little Procrastination...

Obviously, just as I was finishing the Drawing Room, I suddenly started on the kitchen.  This is a fairly typical modus operandi for me, as I like to go where inspiration takes me, rather than planning to do things on certain days.  

Instead of getting to grips with the final upholstering of the sofa (which I know you are all awaiting with great anticipation ;D), I instead embarked on a project that has been on my list for a while.

I have a big birthday coming up in June, the big  FOUR -OH (dear), and I have a few items on my list of 'Things I would like to Achieve Before Hitting Middle Age'.  

Sadly for a miniaturist, I cannot make things well with wood.  I have tried little by little to improve on this, but things really came to crisis when I enlarged Daviot House (again) and found myself with a new kitchen to do.  This came with its own lines of thought - modern or old-fashioned?  Fitted or with individual furniture?  I wanted a quite timeless look, but traditional, and decided on fitted lower cabinets.  Oh help.  

Two years ago I bought a Dremel table saw which then sat on my work desk gathering dust.  Much to the disgust of my cat Edgar, who can't bear the noise, I started playing with it recently.  Here are my first attempts...

This is the kitchen, a nicely sized room.  I also have a scullery/pantry so I don't need to fit too many food cupboards or cleaning items in here.  I used cereal packets to give a rough idea to the size and shape of the cabinets I wanted.  The fireplace was made of foam board and DAS clay.

Then I made a big mess.  I collected the items that I wanted in the kitchen, to have an idea about the amount of counter top space I needed.  The cabinets on the right hand side will be a sink unit.  The (doorless) fridge is a card version of the final one I will make.

I started with the cabinet fronts, which I cut from 3mm lime wood.  The doors and drawers are totally fake; I used 1mm lime wood to make them.  As I get better, I fully intend to remake the cabinets with working drawers and doors, but this is just a first step.  So far,  not so many swear words...

The doors are painted in an ivory cream acrylic, and then sanded, then waxed with clear furniture wax.  Finally, I screwed in some brass handles that are actually model boat fittings.  They'll do for now.

I repeated the process on the corner cupboard.  The surface is made of 3mm lime wood that I painted with watercolours and then waxed and polished.  It has a really nice sheen to it.

I used the watercolour/wax combination on a wall shelf, and I'm thinking about adding a couple more above it.

Considering how fake they are, I think the cabinets do the trick for now.  And making them helped me get over my irrational fear of woodwork (which I think stems from a disasterous mug-tree I made as a girl at school, from which every single mug fell off and smashed).

I'm having a think about the cooker.  It is from the old kitchen, but I don't know if I will keep it, paint it or replace it just yet.

So at least it's a start.  I'll be making more cabinets, and if they aren't a huge disaster, I'll share them with you.  I'm also looking at lighting and flooring, so it may be a while before I finally do upholster that sofa!

Keep safe, well and mini-ing,


a big P.S:  I am having a terrible time leaving comments on blogger, both on your blogs, and even on my own to reply to your lovely comments.   I'm trying to work out why, but in the meantime, rest assured that I read them and am delighted to hear your feedback.

If anyone has any tips about why this happens on blogger, I'd love to hear from you too!  JQ