Archive for February, 2012

I have been wanting to try Lazertran Waterslide Decal Paper for some time.
(Update: 28th June 2017: I have just bought a new pack of this and and it is now available from Amazon.)

Thanks to the nice person who gave me some for Christmas, I finally began my experiments this week.

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I wanted to work with china and the instructions suggest using methylated spirits to achieve a good finish

For a smooth nonabsorbent surfaces such as glass, glazed ceramics and metal there will be enough gum on the back of the decal to fix the decal on to the surface. A good trick to get really good adhesion is to apply a little Methylated Spirits (Alcohol) to the surface and apply the wet decal onto this. The alcohol will stop any edges curling when drying and will make the decal soft enough to be stretched around any doubles curves. But be careful, not too much!

After three weeks of searching (!) I finally located the one remaining bottle of methylated spirits in our local market.

It was £3.99 for 250ml – the usual joke about not drinking it all at once, was thrown in for free – and so I paid up and hurried home.

The instructions were very clear that too much ink on the decal surface was a Bad Thing – so I set my home printer (basic range Canon) to draft print – this resulted in a very ghostly looking image.

I tried again with a standard print setting and this looked much better, to me .

Then I had to let the decals dry for AT LEAST 30 minutes…

While they were drying, I got out my plates ( from Avon Miniatures ) and made sure they were scrupulously clean.

[Avon Miniature make very, very nice chinaware, and sell it at an amazingly reasonable price – the photographs on their website do their work no favours at all ]

Then I followed the Lazertan instructions and everything went smoothly and it worked !

I ended up with a transfer stuck to a plate, and then another transfer stuck to another plate !

I have to admit that I did ignore the bit in the instructions about not using too much methylated spirits – I flooded the plates and then the transfer on top of the plate with meths, but this evaporated so quickly (and the plates are very small) that I do not think I could have use “too much”.

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Open House Miniatures Red riding Hood Wooden dolls' house theatre set

This miniature theatre comes complete with a curtain, 7 pieces of scenery and 6 characters for the Play of Red Riding Hood.

In the last scene there is a “remove”, so that when the piece of scenery is taken out, the wolf in bed can be whisked away and replaced by an empty bed.

In this version Little Red Riding Hood’s father kills the wolf, and so one of the character sets shows a dead wolf.

The theatre is constructed from wood.

The box, scenery and characters are made from acid free card and paper, and  the characters are mounted on wood and have metal ‘sliders’.

There is also a handmade box, in which to store the scenery and characters, when not in use.



The stage of the theatre measures 2 inchs (2.5cm) by 1inch (2.5cm).

The top of the arch stands just over 1 and 1/4 inches (3.3cm) tall.



Toy theatres were a very popular toy during the mid and late Victorian era.

This set is completely my own invention and the characters and scenery have been made using Victorian scraps – which is why they are so brightly coloured.

The label on the box top has been adapted from a games box, dating from 1895. It had no connection with a theatre set in its original form.

This is one of the first theatres, with a complete play, that I made – many years ago now.

It is horrendously difficult to photograph !



The theatre is strongly coloured and the scenery and characters are VERY strongly coloured.

The box is slightly more muted in colour, but  the label is a bright, fresh print.

This theatre set is handmade and contains wire. It is not a ‘toy’, it is a ‘collector’s item’

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Mathews Victorian Toy Theatre #2

I blogged about the Mathews theatre, in some detail, in an earlier post.

This is my version of that theatre.

It is more robust than the original construction, as I have adapted my theatre design to fit it and it now has a wooden structure at the back.

Open House Miniatures - dolls' house Mathews theatre with Cinderella play

It is delicately coloured, and retains a strong printed paper / graphic feeling to it.

The proscenium, scenery and the characters are made from acid free card.

The top of the proscenium is reinforced with a separate, double thickness of card, and it is supported by wooden (pine) batons at the bottom.

The front of the theatre, scenery and characters are reproductions of Victorian originals – which I have hand-coloured.

My version includes –

A safety curtain

6 pieces of scenery –

The kitchen – with side wings
A room in Cinderella’s home – with side wings
The ballroom at The Palace – with side wings


6 characters –

Cinderella and her godmother
The baron and his two other daughters
Cinderella and the Prince dancing
The Prince running after Cinderella
A Fairy and
Cinderella putting on the glass slipper, watched by the prince and his companions
There is also a kitchen table, complete with pumpkin.

In addition there is a handmade box, in which to store the scenery and characters when they are not in use.


The front is made of folded card and so the width of the stage may vary – very slightly

The stage measures approximately 1 and 5/8th inches (4.1cm) by 1 inch (2.5cm).

The top of the arch stands just over 1 and 3/4 inches (4.5cm) tall.


This theatre set is handmade and contains wire.

It is not a ‘toy’, it is a ‘collector’s item’

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A Victorian Suburban Villa

I don’t have a dolls’ house.

Victorian Suburban Villa - house and garden made up

For one thing we don’t have room for a dolls’ house and then …

I am tremedously fickle.

I like too many houses.

I fall in love regularly with little bijou residences, and huge manor houses, and German castles that look like wedding cakes – not to mention the Gothick gatehouses, and seaside guest houses …

My newest love is a Mid-Victorian Suburban Villa.

It is completely charming and comes with its own garden.

I had a struggle to get the roof to fit and then I had to print a mirror image of the plan, so that the garden did not look blank inside.

However, now that it is completed, I am ready to move in.Victorian Suburban Villa - paper toy house to make up


I did a quick calculation the front door is 9/16th of an inch tall – pretty close to the “right” size in 144th scale – so it would be approximately 7 inches in 12th scale.

So, say a 7 inch high door, and approximately 18 inches deep, and about 32 inches wide …

Which means that I need to find 7  foot of space if I wanted the garden as well – and I do want the garden !


I am sorry to say that I know absolutely nothing about the printers / publishers of this little villa, and can only wonder if there were more houses in the series.

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Not PayPal At All

Generally speaking I am not impressed with the phishing /  spoof emails that appear in my inbox, but the one I received this morning has to rank as the best crafted I have ever seen.

I have ruined the effect by adding the words This is a spoof email – but you can still tell that someone has really worked hard to create the authentic PayPal aura.

PayPal have a department which exists to collect such things, so I shared it with them at once.

If you have a fine (or not so fine) example that you would like them to check out, please send it to – spoof@paypal.com

Spoof / Phishing email - supposed to be from Paypal, but isn't

Forward spoof PayPal emails to - spoof@paypal.com

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A Folding Fire Screen

We had rain and snow and howling wind this afternoon.

One of these days I am going to get an afternoon of steady, boring sunshine – one day …

Open House Miniatures - Dolls' House Fire Screen

This fire screen is constructed from acid free card, and it is fully hinged so that it can be adjusted to fit a variety of fireplaces.

The picture is painted on fine watercolour paper, which has been fixed to the card. A shallow frame has then been added, and the whole had been finished with a coat of satin varnish.



2 inches tall – bottom to top of arch – (5cm)

Middle section – 1 and 7/16th inches wide – (3.1cm)

Each side section –  9/16th of an inch wide – (1.4cm)



Fire screens of this type were usually used to disguise an empty grate, or to hide an un-lit fire.

The picture on this screen is painted in a style that would not have been out of place in a late Regency or early Victorian setting.



This miniature fire screen is not a “toy” – it is a “collector’s item”

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Sandford House

Open House Miniatures - Sandford Miniature Dolls' House (front)

This little two storey house was inspired by an Irish Baby House that I saw illustrated in an exhibition catalogue.

It is traditional in design and decorated in soft, clear colours on the outside, with boldly patterned papers on the inside.

There is a large range on the ground floor and a substantial fireplace on the first floor.

The front is fully hinged and the front door is fixed shut.

My houses are entirely handmade and they all vary slightly.



2 and 7/16th inches tall (to the top of the chimneys) – (6.3cm)

Just under 2 inches to the top of the roof – (5cm)

The base is 7/8th inches wide – (3.3cm x 3.6cm)  x 1 and 5/16th inches deep

The rooms are 7/8th inches deep inside (to the back wall) and just under 1 and 5/8th inches wide (2.3cm x 4cm)



The original “Sandford” was built in Dublin, Ireland in the 1790 and it was quite an extensive building with side wings.

Copy of Page 33 from Dolls' House Show Catalogue circa 1989

My version reflects the architecture of the 1700s / early 1800s, and is evocative of the solid, square villas in St. Johns Wood, London that I have always loved for their understated elegance and subtle exterior decoration.



This miniature house is not a “toy” – it is a “collector’s item”

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