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Archive for June, 2011

Open House Miniatures - miniature, 12th scale, McLoughlin Folding Doll House

I have admired the (full size) McLoughlin Folding Dolls’ Houses for a very time.

They were first produced  in the late 1890s and are now highly collectable – and way beyond my pocket. (There is one for $1,500 on the Aleph-Bet Books website).

However, nothing daunted, I have been collecting (usually damaged) bits of the book/dolls’ house – only to realise that, although I probably had all right the bits, I had absolutely no idea how the various pieces should be put together.

Then, by a stroke of good luck one came up for sale on eBay in March this year (2011) and, although it was in only moderate condition, the seller had gone to a great deal of trouble to show the order in which it unfolded.

– A big thank you is due here to tnc-antiques2 for being so thorough –

So here is my miniature version, 12th scale, 1 inch (2.5cm) square when shut and 2 inches (5cm) square when unfolded and open.

The colours are as vibrant as they were on the originals but, because it is constructed from copies of old materials, it has the feeling of something that has been played with and loved.

I chose to leave the small defects that were on the original pieces, and not digitally ‘repair’ them, because I felt that they added to the charm and individuality of the dolls’ house. However, during the resizing process 99.9% of the scratches and bumps  disappeared – and the most noticable remaining  is on the final page where there is a very tiny amount of faint pink staining  where the colour had run from the original binding.

My miniature version is made from acid free card and paper (with excellent archival qualities) and is paper bound – and, due to to the assembly process, the moving parts have been covered in waterbased glue (at least twice) and are robust as well as flexible.

Due to the ‘memory’ of the glue I find that, when it is  fresh out of its box, it is a good idea to put a small coin on each piece of floor (for a short while) so that it ‘remembers’ to stay flat and open.

It comes in its own custom made box and, although this features a picture that was used on the original dolls’ house box, this is all my own invention – as I do not yet have a good box lid…

One day maybe…

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The pdf files and a walkthrough for how to make this folding dolls’ house are here

and there are more things to Do and Make on the Projects Page

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25 Soldiers on Parade

I have always wanted to make a set of toy soldiers and have been collecting ideas over a number of years.

Open House Miniatures - box of dolls' house toy soldiers

25 Soldiers on Parade

This boxed set of ’25 Soldiers on Parade’ contains 25 guardsmen, marching 5 abreast in 5 rows.

Each of the rows of soldiers measures very nearly 1 inch (2.5cm) in width and is attached to a wooden batten – traditionally they would have been nailed to the batten, but these have been glued.

They are made from 200gsm, acid free paper (the thickness of thin card) which has been strengthened by applications (on the reverse) of waterbased glue and coloured varnish.

(I did try making a set from the thinnest plywood possible, but this was brittle and snapped easily – so in this case treated paper proved to be a great deal more robust than wood!)

The set also contains 2 scenes of Horse Guards Parade (in London) and both of these can be removed from the box and will stand very well independently – due to the two ingenious folds on the the bottom edge.

Both the the box and the scenes are made from lightly textured, acid and lignin cellulose free, card.

This set was inspired by one made by McCloughlin Brothers at the end of the 19th Century and the box lid is a reproduction from the original.

The set in its entirity is,  however,  an invention of my own – and I hope it has a timeless appeal.

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Dolls’ Houses – from the V & A Museum of Childhood – ISBN 978-1-85177-546-0

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This is a large book (11 inches tall) of 144 pages and there is at least one full colour photograph on each page.

I bought this book (from Amazon) because I have two Shire books by Halina Pasierbska which I have found very informative and entertaining.

I was very slightly disappointed that this book covers much of the same ground as the two I already have – even to the extent that there are a couple of identical passages in both.

One quotation by Maria Edgeworth (from her 1801 essay on toys in Practical Education) that is repeated, is a favourite of mine –

Our objection to dolls are offered with great submission and due hesitation. With more confidence  we may venture to attack baby houses, an unfurnished baby-house might be a good toy, as it would employ little carpenters and sempstresses to fit it up, but a completely furnished baby-house proves as tiresome to a child as a finished seat is to a young nobleman. After peeping, for in general only a peep can be had, into each apartment, after being thoroughly satisfied that nothing is wanting, and that consequently there is nothing to be done, the young lady lays her doll upon the state bed, if the doll be not twice as large as the bed, and falls fast asleep in the midst of her felicity.

Carping aside – and there is a limit to what is known and can be said about dolls’ houses! – if I had borrowed this book from a library I would not want to return it.

It covers, in a very compact and un-fussy way –

  • a brief history of dolls’ houses – not just those in the V & A – (20 pages)
  • the dolls’ house as a ‘toy’ (10 pages)
  • an overview of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection (20 pages)
  • a comparison of kitchens through the ages (18 pages)
  • a comparison of bedrooms and bathrooms through the ages (22 pages)
  • a comparison of reception rooms through the ages (18 pages)
  • an scrutiny of dolls’ house furniture and furnishings (14 pages)

There is then an appendix listing the dolls’ house in the V & A’s collection and a bibliography.

On a purely personal basis, I enjoyed spotting modern items that I recognised.

Some things were very, very familiar and I am willing to bet – at least 50p – that the carpet under the kitchen table of Roma Hopkinson’s House (on page 73) came from Kristin Baybars’ shop because I remember cutting up a piece of  thin, boldly patterned real carpet, sections of which were just right dolls’ house size.

(Note for historians – I bought the carpet from a shop on the Kilburn High Road, in North West London. It was new (in the late 1980s) very thin, and cut beautifully without fraying at all.)

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This has been a busy couple of weeks and on the 13th I “opened” the Open House Miniatures shop on Etsy.

I must pause to sing the praises of Etsy here – their site is easy to navigate, lovely to use and it makes your things look GOOD (even, if like me your photographs leave alot to be desired).

No sales yet though! – but with no history, no feedback and a great reluctance to mention the fact that I have been selling on eBay for a number of years (I feel strongly that Etsy is not a place to mention eBay!) this is hardly surprising.

I look forward to building up some stock – and improving my photographs – and am feeling rather excited about things generally.

One thing I do regret is the time it takes to take photographs, write descriptions and create listings – I could be using this time to make things!

So what have I been doing this week?

Well, as I typed that sentence my computer shut down and informed me it was infected with viruses and trojan horses and worms and goodness knows what else… (in truth, it wasn’t infected with all this, there was just a really annoying little bug that wanted make me to put my payment details in to a fake Microsoft page) so as well as everything else I have spent a very slow Sunday afternoon removing the partition on the C drive and then re installing EVERYTHING… where did the weekend go?

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Ebay Here We Come

I hope to get this uploaded to eBay this evening – internet connection permitting

– buy it Now Price £28 –

Postage costs have increased horrifically since I last listed anything on eBay – I wonder if this will affect sales?

***   ***  ***

This item is a handmade, 12th scale, recreation of Mcloughlin’s New Pretty Village.

The original (full size) version was first produced in 1897 and was an extemely popular late Victorian toy.

In this miniature version there are 8 tiny replica buildings and 4 ground plans in a box, which shows the lid of an original School House Set.

The ground plans are each 1 inch (2.5cm) square and can be arranged in a number of combinations.

Each house is numbered on the base to show where it was placed on the original version but, (as with the original) you can arrange them to please yourself.

This listing is for number 26 in a limited edition of 250

Miniature McLoughlin Pretty Village in 12th scale - dolls' house size

Shows the original placement of the houses - and a blurred box

Payment:may be made by Paypal, or UK cheque, or UK Postal Order
Postage: I always get a certificate of posting, please contact me if you would like this item sent by a recorded mail service and I will let you know the additional cost involved
Delivery Times: according to the Royal Mail website
  • 1st Class Post – delivery to the UK –  1 -2 working days
  • Airmail – delivery to Western Europe within three days and Eastern Europe within five working days
  • Airmail – delivery to the rest of the world in five to seven working days

Returns: accepted for any reason – if returned within 3 working days

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Last week, my printer – after years of long, reliable service – developed a dirty roller and black streaks appeared all over my prints.

Not too much of a problem finding a new printer, you might think, but finding one that would work with my ancient operating system (Windows 2000) was impossible.

The solution seemed to be installing Windows XP… I therefore spent a day saving all my files (I am not exaggerating, it really did take this long) to an external hard drive.

And then all the  fun installing XP and… All the Service Packs

I then had all the more fun of trying to find a computer that worked with XP, did not cost the earth and for which ink cartridges are

  • affordable
  • easily available

Not as easy as it might sound, but at last the big day arrived, finally I had lovely little house to cut out and make up…

That was the easy part – now I have to take some photographs (I do not take good photographs) and I will be nearly ready to lauch the Pretty Village on etsy, or ebay…

Must work out postage costs, packaging costs, write a description, recover my passwords (big sigh…)

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PS  (I LIKE Windows 2000 because there are very, very few  “helpful” messages – I hope you are listening Microsoft)

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