Archive for August, 2011

What a Life! - and autobiography  (authors E.V.L. & G.M.)

One day in 1911 two Edwardian gentleman sat down with scissors and paste and created a masterpiece – using illustrations from Whiteley’s Catalogue.

It was published under the title What a Life !  – (an autobiography E.V.L. & G.M.) – and I find it  surreal, inventive and very funny.

It also provided the inspiration for my Whiteley’s Catalogue House –

so called because at the bottom of the first page…

What a Life! Chapter 1

there is the picture of a dolls’ house that is, to me, the absolute epitome of late Victorian suburban architecture,

I wanted one, in miniature, quite desperately the minute I saw it.

OPen House Miniatures - Whiteley's catalogue Dolls Houses, August 2011

I made the first one at least 15 years ago now and I have just completed numbers 19 and 20.

Over the years they have changed a little bit here and there, but they are still one of my favourite houses to make.

Size wise they have remained pretty much the same – the base is 1 and 1/4 inches (3.15cm) wide by 1 inch (2.5cm) deep and from the base to the top of the chimney pots is approximately 2 and 1/5 inches (6.3cm).

I do not know who made the original house, or what size it was, or what colours it was painted in, so you could say that these are mostly my own invention, but they would never have been made if  E.V.L. & G.M. had not sat down with scissors and paste and created What a Life !

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What A Life! – (an autobiography E.V.L. & G.M.) , Collins edition 1987, ISBN 00 217796 X (possibly out of print)

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Other People’s Eyes

One of the (many things) that I like about Etsy is that they give customers the opportunity to send an Appreciation Photograph to a seller.

The young lady below is named Kim and she was made by Patricia of Papillon Bleu UK

Aprreciation photograph from Papillon Bleu on Etsy

Copyright Papillon Bleu UK

Kim is holding one of my Circus Roundabouts, and when I first saw the photograph I could not work out what was ‘wrong’.

Then I realised that Kim is doll sized, rather than dolls’ house sized, and so my small roundabout looks extra tiny in her hands – and then I was pleased and charmed that someone had seen / imagined things differently to me and had used one of my things so creatively. (NOTE TO SELF – try not to be so obsessed with scale).

If you would like to read more about Kim – I do particularly admire her elegantly shod feet ! – and her sisters please visit Papillon Bleu’s Blog

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Today I actually took a photograph that I like !

Open House Miniatures - assorted dolls' house miniature fans

I think these fans are very pretty.

They are made from 100gsm and 200gsm (acid free) paper and have hand-painted gilt sticks and trim.

Each one is further embellished with two hand-made tassels made from embroidery thread.

They are fixed open and do not fold up.

Although – just like a real fan – they need to be treated with respect, they are quite robust and will withstand moderate handling.

They vary in size, but none is more than 3/4 of an inch (2cm) tall and 1 and 1/2 inches (3.8cm) wide.

Please note – these handmade fans are not ‘toys’, they are ‘collector’s items’

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Open House Miniatures - white elephant screen for doll's house

This White Elephant Screen owes a great deal to Graham Rust, whose book The Painted House is crammed full of designs for murals, screens and fireboards – not to mention studies from nature of flowers, shells, fruit, scenery and wildlife.

It is also full of excellent, professional advice on how to plan a painted project and tips on how to achieve perspective and lighting effects.

I would dearly like – if only I had somewhere to put it ! – a dolls’ house that I could decorate with his designs.

Unfortunately, I am fairly certain that I could never put any furniture in such a house as I would not want to cover up the murals.

My attempt at a compromise is the White Elephant Screen, which is adapted from one of the room plans in The Painted House.

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In the introduction Mr Rust writes that The Painted House is:

…is intended to serve as a pattern book for professional painters and a source of inspiration for those seeking ideas for the decoration of their houses…

This does not mean to say that his designs are copyright free and, if you buy his book and use his ideas, please make sure you give him full credit.

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This miniature album is fractionally over 1 inch (2.5cm) in height.

It contains 10 photographs from the mid to late 1800s, reproduced on professional quality matt photographic paper, and these are arranged in date order.

The three sets of photographs shown here will be in the album that you receive – I vary the remaining two sets, so that each album is unique.

The photographs are inset within the decorated pages and the pages have faded “gilt” trim.

The internal spine is reinforced with finest silk for added strength and durability.

When new the binding is fairly tight and has a “memory” – when it has been opened it will need to be put it under a light weight for a while, it will then “remember” to stay fully closed again.

The covers are reproduced from a Victorian album and are made of 200gsm, acid free, lightly textured paper. They have a protective glaze and have the look and feel of very fine leather.

Please note – this handmade item is not a “toy” – it is a “collector’s item.

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Open House Miniatures - Victorian dolls' house photograph album (fixed open)

These miniature albums  just fractionally over 1 inch (2.5cm) high and just over 1 and 1/2 inches (4cm) wide and 1/16th of an inch (2mm) thick.

The pages of the albums are reproduced from a Victorian album and retain the fading and marking due to their age.

The photographs are miniature reproductions of Victorian originals and are printed on professional quality matt photographic paper and inset in the pages.

I try to vary the photographs in the albums as much as possible but, as detail disappears fairly quickly, my choice is  more limited with the smaller sized images.

They have flat leather ‘covers’  and these are usually made from soft, fine leather from recycled old gloves and handbags.

The pages have faded gilt edges and each has a worn silk ribbon page marker.

These albums are fixed open and do not close.

Please note – these handmade items are not ‘toys’, they are ‘collector’s items’

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I find these really difficult to photograph too…

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Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book

Open House Miniatures - Mrs Beeton's cookery book, dolls' house miniature

These well-used volumes feature an illustration from Mrs Beeton’s Household Management and some very small text, which can probably only be read by a dolls’ house cook.

As they have been used in busy kitchens, they all look rather dog-eared and dilapidated – some more than others !

They are all under 1 inch (2.5cm) height and average 1 and 1/4 inches (3.2cm) wide.

They are fixed flat open and do not shut, and each one is unique.

– I really and truly find it impossible to make two the same –

– similar yes: identical no…

Please note – these are not “toys”, they are “collector’s items”

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I am beginning to be frustrated by eBay’s pricing policy –

  • at the time of typing this, it would cost me 70p to list one of these on eBay – worldwide listing

then, if it sold…

  • Paypal (owned by eBay) would take a percentage of the funds I received – including the postage
  • eBay would then take 10% of the value of the item sold (and as these are currently £4.75 this would be 48p)


The eBay fees alone would be – 70p plus 48p, which equals £1.18

End Result – I can’t afford to list these on eBay

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