30 March 2012

Week 13: Scream for ice cream!

I was going to save this for later in the year but it's been so sunny and lovely I thought we'd have a little treat today.

This super sweet, calorie free, goodness will look fab in mini dishes, sundae glasses or even, if you very clever, handmade ice cream cones?
I'm yet to successfully make a cone so today your gelato is coming at you in some cute little bowls I had kicking around.

What I used:
Sculpey in whipped cream
Scrap of yellow Fimo
Scrap of chocolate brown Fimo
Liquid Fimo gel
Plastic spatula/ modelling tool

What I did:
First you need to blend the scrap of yellow clay with the White until you have a satisfactory shade of 'Vanilla'.
(These colours are of course just a guide, play around with different ones to make your favourite flavours.)

Once thoroughly blended, add 3-4 generous blobs of the Fimo gel and start to work it into the clay with the spatula. This can take a little while and is quite messy, make sure your work surface is protected to avoid mass stickiness.

You should end up with a lovely, squishy, pliable lump of clay.
The spatula I used had a very slightly curved tip which acted as an ideal, mini ice cream scoop!! If you get it to curl enough the clay should crease and crack like a real scoop would, if not add detail with some the tip of the spatula or a cocktail stick.

I went for 2 scoops per bowl, but of course you can pile it as high as you like!

Add a little stick of chocolate brown clay for a flake! (or crumble for sprinkles?)
Following the manufacturers instructions, heat the finished ice cream in the oven. If your bowls are not oven proof or you're not sure, bake the Ice cream separately and add to dishes later. Fix in place with a little PVA glue.

Enjoy! Not literally. Obviously.

Here's some source material for you. I was very dedicated in my research for today's post.

28 March 2012

In the kitchen

Ok, we're not actually in the kitchen yet, more just musing about and planning the kitchen.
It's not quite ready for a sneaky peek but I can confirm that the walls are the sugariest pink I could find (without going too Barbie!). Specifically, 'Rosie Cheeks' by The Nursery Paint Company.

Here's a little snap shot from the Pinterest board, click to go see everything else!

23 March 2012

Week 12: Potting up


Where did that week go?!

Thought we'd step outside for this weeks mini.

I've spent a lot of time in the real garden over the last few days attempting to grow something, anything.
It's no secret to those that know me that I'm not naturally 'green fingered'. I think the last thing I raised successfully was watercress in cotton wool... sometime around 1992.
However, perhaps with age comes gardening wisdom dumb luck as this week has seen the first signs of life after some half hearted seed planting.
Out of 12 seeds we've got 10 tiny seedlings so far, it's very exciting. Trying no to be put off by people telling me Dahlias are tricksy things to grow, I'm feeling optimistic, they've been alive nearly a whole week!!

They're ALIVE!!!
So with this in mind I've decided to 'plant up' some little flower pots. There's so many gorgeous mini flower makers out there but as in life those pretty little blooms start out as underwhelming pots of dirt. So, here we go.

What I used:
Assorted mini pots, chimney pots, crates
Paint - 'Rosie cheeks' & 'Milk Time' by The Nursery Paint Company
'Foliage' available at most hobby suppliers. 
Tea bag
PVA glue
For the plant markers - Thin scraps of wood or card
Cocktail sticks
Thin paint brush

What I did:
I got the little collection of plain flower pots at Kensington Dolls house festival last year and failed to note down the name of the nice lady selling them, if you recognise them let me know!!
The chimney pot is from Little Homes of England Miniatura stand.
Firstly decide what colours you're painting your pots.Predictably, I went for a sugary white and pink combo, and apply thinly and evenly using a small paint brush.

While the paint's drying you can prepare you're grit. In real life this would provide drainage, in mini life this is bulking out the pots so you have a lumpy looking base for your 'soil'. You won't actually see this so in theory you could use anything to fill it up.
I mixed a little of the grit in some PVA glue and scooped small amounts of it into the containers using cocktail sticks, make sure you've left space at the top for the soil.

Next, take a teabag and sprinkle the contents over the tops of your pots. It doesn't matter what sort of tea though, I went for Earl Grey. Save a bit for scattering about later.
Use your fingers to rub a bit of glue around the edges and sides of the pot for the loose tea to cling to. This will hopefully look like the pot has been sat outside for a while. For some added interest attach some tiny pieces of shrubbery to look like moss.

To make plant markers glue two tiny scraps of wood or card together to form a 'T' and push into the top of your pot.

All done! When all the glue has dried your pots are ready to arrange in your mini garden, potting shed, window sill. Where ever you fancy really.

Right, I'm off to for some fun in the sun.
Have a nice weekend!


21 March 2012

House Hunter: The Water's Edge

If you read the blog on Monday you will know all about my adventures to Miniatura last weekend and how I'd had the chance to meet some lovely mini makers face to face.

Among the lovelies was Leanne Bartlett, owner and creative director of The Contemporary Home in Miniature.
We were greeted with a smile, a chat and invited to take some snaps of the gorgeous, contemporary style houses on show.

Now, I've always favoured traditional style dolls houses, I'm not a stickler for historical accuracy or anything but there's always been something quite charming to me about an oldy worldy style house.
I LOVE modern miniatures for interiors but have still stayed on the side of Georgian/ Victorian exteriors, probably because that's the sort of house I've lived in in real life? This combined with the fact that a lot of the more contemporary houses I've spotted previously don't always appear that convincing has meant I've not really investigated the more modern side of dolls house architecture before. Well... after getting up close and personal with these little houses I think I may be on the turn!!

Leanne has personally designed each house in the range, they are then brought to life by her Dad, Barry Palmer. Each property is finished to a high spec and arrives with it's owner built and ready to move into.

Of course the houses on show at Miniatura were filled with modern mini treasures, including fab fitted kitchens by Elf Miniatures and essential, finishing touches from Leanne.

It's hard to pick a favourite but I did take a shining to The Water's Edge.

I LOVE the layout! Features such as using space under the stairs and the kitchen extension make the layout really unusual compared to the more traditional designs on the market, while the exterior is a refreshing change in style to more commonly favored, historical houses.

Images used by kind permission of The Contemporary Home in Miniature.

The price was also a pleasant surprise, proving that a handmade, British produced house doesn't have to come with a price tag to make your eyes water.
If when I have the space and pennies for another addition to my mini property portfolio I think Leanne will be the lady to call!

For further details of The Waters edge and to view the rest of Leanne's range visit: The Contemporary Home in Miniature

More Miniatura makers to come. In the mean time decorating of my own little house continues following some exciting deliveries this week. All will be revealed soon!!

20 March 2012

Stuff & Things: Go Make Me

It's late and I've been making a mess of my dolls house all day but I wanted to show you these quickly!

Not that I'm obsessed with little houses or anything but...
A tiny house on todays Etsy homepage caught my eye, it lead to a tutorial on how to make super sweet wedding favours by Go MakeMe. Schweeet!

Click here to go to the tutorial

Oh, and they also make this printable 3D house card, gift tag and favour bag set. Essential items? I think so!

19 March 2012

Stuff & Things: Miniatura 2012

So, I've just about recovered from the weekend.
My long suffering Dad and I were up and on the road to the NEC at 5.30am on Saturday for Miniatura.
For those of you not in the know this is basically one of the biggest events in a dolls house weirdo's calendar with squillions of dolls houses and mini supplies all under one roof. This was the first time I've actually managed to go. I was literally like on over excited child, even the early start didn't deflate me!!

We arrived with 20 Min's to spare before the doors opened so time for crucial make up application for me and a much needed ciggy for Dad. During this time a large and slightly intimidating queue had formed so rather than join we sat down nearby for some people watching and a flick through the listings.

The next three hours were a little overwhelming!!
Dad's survival strategy was basically to leave me to it while I flitted from one stand to another like a little cocker spaniel before eventually pulling myself together for the serious task of shopping.

The majority of my buying's were essentials but not all that pretty, (at least not yet!) floor tiles, skirting boards, floor boards, unfinished furniture, unpainted tins and trays. I felt I was very restrained!

I did indulge in one little luxury , Mrs Beeton's guide to household management by Pear Tree miniatures. Yes, it was because I liked the picture!

The show also gave me the chance to get chatting with some of the makers about their work. We met some really lovely people, some of whom I'll blog about later.

Even if you're not a dolls house person I recommend a trip to Miniatura if you get the chance, soo much to look at and I'm pretty sure you'ld be a convert by the time you left...maybe?!

Anyway, more about the show to come.
If any body wants me I'll be in the attic, laying mini floorboards.


16 March 2012

Week 11: French Fancy's


Mothers day is nearly here! Are you prepared?! I'm actually spending mothers day with my Mum this year after being a terrible daughter for the last few. While I can't possibly reveal what the real plans are for Sunday (mother is watching!) I can share some mini mothers day treats so today we are making French Fancy's to grace the 1:12 scale coffee table.

What I used:
White fimo
Red fimo
Yellow fimo
Light Brown fimo
Dark Brown fimo
Cocktail stick
Plates to serve

What I did:

Firstly,I find it really helps to have a real plate of French Fancy's in front of you when working on these both for reference and a sugar fix while your fimo versions are cooking. Just be careful not to mix the two up, fimo isn't very tasty.

Once your snacks are in place you can stat blending your fimo colours together to create the fondant icing shades.
I tend to do this by eye rather than exact quantities as you may want to make a number of these at a time.
For the yellow I softened the shade with a touch of white so it looked more that scrummy, sugary shade.
For the pink i added a scrap of red to a larger lump of white.
For the chocolate I just used a scarp of light brown. Some other polymer clays can be purchased in chocolate-esque shades. Sculpey coffee bean is one I use a lot for Easter eggs. (Coming soon!)

When you're happy with your colours roll the fimo into a small sausage shape and using a scalpel start to cut into tiny squares. To create the rounded edges on the top I very gently rolled a cocktail stick over the squares.

To create the little icing strips roll super thin strips of fimo in your chosen colours and using the scalpel slice very thin strips off, a few at a time.
Carefully, using your cocktail stick lay the strips over the top of the cakes and trim excess with the scalpel. This part is a bit like surgery, really fiddly, though not as serious if you bugger it up.

Your cakes are ready for the oven! Always follow the manufacturers baking instructions. I strongly advise doing a test run on a blob of fimo you don't care about if you've not used the oven with polymer clay before, that way if it over cooks the first time it wont be all your hard work wasted.

When the cakes are done and cooled done you can arrange them on plates/ cake stands of your choosing. Due to how teeny tiny these are I usually glue them in place to avoid knocking them over and loosing them.

All done.

Shameless plug alert: If you like the look of the French fancys but don't really feel like making them yourself this one is currently fo sale on Four Little Walls etsy store. Not much there right now but have a looksee anyway!
Whatever your plans for Mothers day, I wish mum's everywhere a lovely day, hope they're filled with cake and fizz, and perhaps a trip to the Birmingham NEC for Miniatura?!
I'm heading up tomorrow with my long suffering Dad, VERY excited!!

Next week = Dolls house DIY: Part 2 (painting and wallpapering!)
Ta ta!

14 March 2012

Shopping: St Patrick's Day mini's

St Patrick's day. What's not to love? The accents, the music, the silly hat the pub gives you if you manage a few pints of Guinness. Yess!

Well, I've been having a little browse and it seems that St.Paddys is just as big in the mini world. Here's a few of my favourite finds. Click to be taken direct to the makers store.

Bottle of Guinness by Cinen

Two cups of St.Patricks coffee by Diane Paone
1/4 scale pot of gold by Micheles menu
Traditional Irish stew by Shay Aaron Miniatures

Fingers crossed I find an actual pot of gold in time for Miniatura on Saturday, have already mentally spent the budget... Twice.

9 March 2012

Week 10: Dollhouse DIY Part 1

Well, if there's one thing I've learnt/ remembered this week it's that when it comes to DIY, there's no such thing as a five minute job!

For example, stripping one wall in one afternoon, became two people scraping furiously, bits of dry, brittle old plaster falling into the eyes and hair, all kinds of pulpy, gluey, mess over the carpet, walked through the house, fed to the dog. Etc.
Just when we thought we'd got to the end and could leave Dad to polyfill the many potholes, my sister appears, announcing she thinks she's just broken the shower...she has.
All hands on deck to avert flooding disaster as water gushes out tap fittings. Hmm. Well now we've lost momentum and the pub seems like a good idea. Polyfilla can wait.

You get the picture.
Dad was right, we've been brainwashed by Changing rooms and 60 minute makeover into thinking everything can be transformed in hours with mdf, a staple gun and whatever else your over-zealous designer can blag from Dunelm mill. Alas, no.

The other thing I had reiterated this week was that the same is true of dollhouses. Yes, they're smaller and cheaper (mostly) than full size projects but they can still eat up hours at a time and easily reduce you to tantrums.

Typically I'm in a rush to get to the exciting bit where I get to decorate, and make stuff pretty but in the name of doing things properly, today we're preparing. A potentially dull but essential part of renovating.

Remember, if you fail to plan, plan to fail!

What I used:
Pre-loved dollshouse
Damp sponge
Small scraper
Sand paper (various grades)

What I did:
In this instance I'm totally gutting a house so don't need to protect any surfaces etc. If you're doing just one room make sure you've sealed off any vulnerable areas with paper and masking tape, or teeny tiny dust sheets!

Firstly I tore out the flooring papers and carpet. That self adhesive stuff sure sticks fast so be prepared to put in some elbow grease to removing the residue!
I find a little bit of nail varnish remover sometimes helps with this too.

Flooring papers are easier to take up. Simply soak them with a water and they should lift/ scrape right off.

Wallpapers need the same treatment but can feel like harder work as you're working at awkward angles in built houses.

When all the paper has been removed
gently sand all surfaces and ensure all residue is gone.

If you're repainting an already painted wall you will also need to clean and sand this lightly before applying the new colour. If it's a dark colour or bare wood that you'll be painting it's advisable to prime it with a basic White primer, just makes for a nicer finish. And make sure you've got a decent paintbrush. You don't want bristles dropping out everywhere!

It's messy, it's not the most exciting part of dolls house decorating but it does need to be done.

So, hope that wasn't too much of a snore fest! Will get to the good bit next time, promise!
Right, I'm off. Got a psychic evening to prepare for, apprehensive!

Ta ta!

6 March 2012

I want candy

Today I've been on a bit of a Pinterest binge.
It's a bit addictive isn't it?!

Following on from Sunday's musings, my love affair with candy shades continues, here's a peek at some of today's pins. (Click on the picture to be taken to the Pinterest board where all original sources can be found and/ or linked to!)

5 March 2012

Mucky monday

Well today is a bit bleurgh isn't it?!
I've spent the day indoors, hiding from gross weather.
The dog is beside herself, everytime the wind blows the letterbox she thinks someone's coming home.
I'm also currently covered in muck from stripping wallpaper. Not mini wallpaper, oh no. Full size, real life decorating for me today, it takes so much longer!!

I need a pick me up and this usually does the trick. I know it's old news now but it still gets me a bit excited.

Incase you've not seen this before, it's the little house from Disney's Up, built fo real and made to fly using balloons. I love it i love it i love it!

4 March 2012

Stuff & things: Decorating dilemmas

One of the best bits about being a dolls house weirdo is the decorating.
I'm currently in the planning stages of revamping my childhood dolls house and after a morning trawling through interior blogs and websites I'm paralysed by indecision!

Shabby chic? Minimalist? Features walls? Wallpaper or paint? Tiles or floorboards?

One thing I have fallen in love with though is these lovely, juicy, candy colours currently splashed all over Marks and Spencer's SS12 range.
I spent longer than a person should pawing at the pages of their new catalogue, here's a look at what caught my eye...

Oh, It's all got a bit much, I'm going to have to go watch the Hollyoaks omnibus and come back to this later.

2 March 2012

Week 9: Sweet heart tutorial


So Here we are at week 9! NINE!
That went quick.

It's been a busy week here with some exciting bits and pieces going on.
Top secret for now, will spill the beans in a week or two!

For now we'll carry on tinkering.
You might have spotted these little twine hearts in previous posts?yes? No? Well today I'm going to show you how to make your own.

What I used:
Thin twine (try your craft shop, alternatively you could use string)
Dress making pins
PVA glue

What I did:
Cut two lengths of twine , I used 8cm but you can mix and match sizes.

Using your fingers, dab a little glue and a little more water around the the twine, twisting the lengths together as you go until they're wound into a little rope.

I used the squishy lid of a sewing box as a base for this next bit.
Make a loop from the twine and lay it flat, secure the bottom ends with a pin.
Use another three pins to pull the twine into a heart shape, like this:

When your happy with the shape, soak it with a little more water and glue, then leave to dry.

These little hearts are pretty versatile, so pop them where ever you fancy; on the wall, on a door, string a few together to make a little garland. I've got them everywhere!

Next week I'm gonna get stuck on to some dolls house renovations so pop back if you fancy seeing some small scale DIY.

Have a lovely weekend!