Archive for March, 2012

I have a mirror of which I am very fond.

Original Mirror Detail

It is straight-out-of-the-paint-box vermillion in colour and decorated with Chinese figures and scenery. I bought it some years ago, together with a hairbrush, from a charity shop in Kent.

It is so straight-out-of-the-paint-box vermillion in colour, that I have not yet found a wall where it would be at home. This being so, when I wanted to make a miniature version of it, I changed the background colour to black and the undercoat, that shows through in places, to cadmium red.

My miniature version is constructed using a handbag mirror, which has safety glass, securely housed in a plastic frame.

The handmade frame is then painted and varnished several times to give the soft sheen effect of old lacquer.

It is relatively heavy and so I have added a hanging wire at the back. This can be snipped away, or twisted out of sight if it is not needed.

I have a pattern for the frame and sketches for the design, but each of these mirrors turns out differently.

They are also dependant upon good light for painting, and a supply of handbag mirrors – neither of which can be guarenteed.



3 and 1/2 inches tall – (8.9cm)

2 and just over6/16th wide – (6.1cm)

Just under ¼ inch deep – (7mm)



I have no idea where, or when, my original mirror was made – it has no identifying marks that I can find.



These miniature mirrors are made from REAL GLASS. They are not  “toys” – they are a “collector’s items”

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About 20 years ago I saw, framed in an antique shop in Devon, a set of what I thought were wooden tiles. They made up the brightly coloured picture of Barnum’s Museum, which is one of the puzzles in this miniature set.

Open House Miniatures - doll house McLoughlin picture puzzle blocks

As someone who grew up with picture blocks that were cubes, I wondered if they had been cut down, so that they were shallow enough to be framed. And I have to admit that I was slightly disbelieving when I was told that they were American, and that not all picture blocks were the shape I thought they should be.

The single set of blocks was priced at £45 (twenty years ago!) and they remain one of the things that I very much regret that I did not didn’t buy, when I had the chance.

There are three puzzles in my miniature version of the set and they come in a stout, custom-made cardboard box.

I still wonder which gentleman’s hat is going to be the first victim of the inquisitive elephant’s trunk



Each of the three puzzles is 1 inch wide x 1 and 3/16th inches high (approx 2.5cm x 3cm)

The box is just big enough to hold them, so it is a little bit larger than this.



In the late 1880s, the McLoughlin Brothers Company had the largest colour lithography printing plant in the US. They produced huge quantities of all sorts of games, toys and books – usually of the most beautiful quality.

The illustrations that I have used for this set come from the Unequalled A B C and Building Blocks.

They differ from the originals in two respects –

One side of the original blocks was illustrated, and the reverse had letters of the alphabet.

In my version the backs of the blocks are plain.

The original blocks were divided in to 12 small squares with two larger triangles at the top.

In my version the 12 small squares have become 6, slightly larger, oblongs. This is in response to the frustration expressed by those who find the smaller sized square blocks “too fiddly” – in addition it is easier to see the picture with larger blocks.

It is, however, perfectly possible to cut the blocks in to their original 12 small squares – should this be needed.



These miniature set of puzzles contains very small pieces. It is not a “toy” – it is a “collector’s item”

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Open House Miniatures - dolls' house Christian Hacker Shop

This smart little shop was inspired by a Christian Hacker design of the late 1890s.

The decoration on this one is close to the original colour scheme, and it has been given a protective glaze that gives it a very slightly used feeling.

It is empty and ready to be filled with a selection of 144th scale goods.

My shops are entirely handmade and they all vary slightly.

This one is number 16 in an unlimited edition.



Base – 1 and 6/16th of an inch wide by 7/8th of an inch deep – (3.5cm x 2.2cm)

Height – to top of front, is approximately 1 3/16th inches (3cm)



The company founded by Christian Hacker was an important German toy manufacturer at the end of the 19th, and the beginning of the 20th Centuries.

A shop similar to this one can be seen in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.



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

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Aubusson Style Rugs

One of the joys of designing things by computer is the way that it makes subtle adjustment in colour and tone relatively easy.

For example  – white is a realtively “hard” colour and can become quite glaringly WHITE in the small space of a dolls’ house room.

The carpet on the right is golden toned and relatively new looking and CLEAN.

The carpet on the left is more muted in tone and the colours are slightly softer and it looks as though it has been used.

To be able to offer this sort of choice is, for me, enormously exciting.

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Although I use a computer to perfect the design of these carpets, they are printed by hand – not using transfer paper, but by a form of mono-printing using an acetate plate.

The examples here are on fine cotton, which gives a nice texture, and are backed with iron-on fabric stiffener – to prevent the edges fraying.

They have no fixed size, as they can be ajusted (within reason) to fit a room.

The ones here measure 5 inches along the short edge.

Please note – These rugs are not “Toys”: They are “Collector’s Items”

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I was excited recently about creating transfers using Lazertran

This was not so much because I wanted to decorate lots of china – fun though that is – but because I have been looking for an alternative method of fixing a crisp image on to wood.

Open House Miniatures - Mcloughlin Picture Blocks

When working in miniature, paper becomes very “thick”.

In fact, anything over 100 gsm is more like cardboard than paper.

There is also the problem of getting paper to bond securely with wood – both are porous and, however careful you are, there tend to be air bubbles and edges that come loose.

After the success with the plates, I hoped that I had found the answer to my dreams in Lazertran paper, which is very fine and takes ink beautifully.

Things looked good to start with.

Open_ House_Miniatures - Lazertran Looking Good

Then things became a bit unstuck – literally…

Open_House_Miniatures - Lazertran Not Looking Good

Then the wood (Jelutong) warped

Open House Miniatures - warped wood

So I found another piece of wood and tried sticking another transfer to it with pva glue – which was not a method recommended in the instructions, but I thought I would see what happened anyway.

Open House Miniatures - Lazertran

The results were… well basically, the two surfaces did not stick together at all…

My first attempt at using the paper (with china) was so completely successful and my second (with wood) was so completely and ludicrously NOT successful, that I feel I must have been doing something wrong the second time and will try again another day.

For the time being, however, it looks like it will have to be the old method and ordinary paper as usual.

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I gave myself a treat yesterday afternoon, and finished painting one of my favourite screen designs.

Open House Miniatures - dolls' house screen, with birds and flowers

The panels are asymmetrical and the main space can be filled in a variety of ways. I chose to put birds and flowers in this one.

The screen is made of card, which, at this size/thickness, is tougher than most types of wood – thin sheets of wood can split along the grain far too easily for my liking.

Being made of card, it can also be hinged without using metal hinges – very tiny metal hinges being one of the things with which I have not (yet) had much success.

I can never get them to work satisfactorily: they either bend while I am fixing them in place, or wobble about when they are in place – possibly, I have not yet found the right sort of hinges!

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Next week Project Garden Wall is about to start in earnest and I have been delegated to help mix concrete and mortar.

I am looking forward to doing something full-size (for a change !) but, as I am not going to be in any state to go to the post office, this will mean closing my Etsy shop for a week.

I am curious to find out what life will be like without having the shop presence hovering in the background.

I don’t dash to check if anything has sold every 15 minutes, which I was inclined to do when I first opened it in June of last year; but I am very aware that it is there, day and night, 24/7, and this does make me feel as though I am “at work” all the time.

Blogging is the same. I can’t honestly say that this has, so far, been more that a way of recording what I have been working on – and I won’t pretend that I don’t begrudge the time and effort that goes in to trying to photograph things so that they look like they do in real life, or at least as near to “in real life” as represented on my screen and generated by my computer.

It is going to be interesting to see if I miss Etsy, or if I really would be more comfortable sliding quietly back in to the “real” world.

Final decision time is June this year, so I had better make the most of this opportunity to see how it feels to be “private” again.

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Open House Miniatures - dolls' house painted wall clock - c. 1830

This painted wall clock is made from wood and card.

It has a printed dial and does not have a working movement.

The dial and the decorative cut-out are protected by acetate.

The decoration is hand painted and this one has faded roses, intermixed with gilded decoration.

I have made a pattern for the clock, but as the decoration is all done by hand, no two clocks ever look exactly the same.

And – as I only paint in “good” daylight – I don’t make these as often as I would like to.



1 and 3/4 inches long

1 and 1/16th inches wide

1/4  inches deep (at clock face)

approx ( 4.5 cm x 3.8cm x .5cm )



I saw the original of this clock in an auction some years ago.

It was catalogued as being English (circa 1830), made of papier-mache and by an unknown maker.

It was LARGE  – 30 inches long by 19 inches wide  and 5 inches deep – and sold for a eye-opening sum of money.

My version is therefore smaller than 12th scale – and a little more affordable.


Please Note – this miniature clock is not a “Toy”. It is a “Collector’s Item”

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