Archive for January, 2013

Open House Miniatures - miniature paper doll Mary Bell

As a rule, I am not overly fond of paper dolls. I find the way they fall over if you breathe on them – not to mention the way their clothes refuse to stay on – exasperating in the extreme.

Despite this, I am rather attached to Mary Bell and Rhoda. Not only are they an excellent reference for Victorian clothing, but I like the way that, although they are very simple and probably not designed to last, a great deal of attention has been lavished on small details like the patterning of the floors and the pleats in the dresses.

Besides which they have such nice expressions and I feel sorry for them in their solid-looking boots and indestructible underwear.

The original dolls were published by Peter G Thompson of Cincinnati and, from their clothes, I think that they date from the late 1870s / early 1880 – but this is a far from reliable guess.

They were printed on a coarse, thick paper and are roughly about 4 inches (5 cm) tall – and in real life they are rather the worse for wear.

My miniature versions have been tidied up – by computer magic – and are just under 1 inch (2.5 cm) tall – well over 12th scale.

Open House Miniatures -miniature paper doll

It is possible to cut out and dress the dolls at this size and if you would like to try this for yourself the pdf for both miniatures dolls is here – _Mary_Bell_and_Rhoda_Paper_Dolls_OHM_20130129

If you decide to print them, please bear in mind that your computer / printer settings and the paper that you use will make difference to the results that you get.

Open House Miniatures - miniature paper doll download

They are so simple to make that it seemed almost silly to make a slide show about how to fold the booklet and suggest how the dolls could be made to stand up – but I did it anyway.

Below are larger versions of  Mary Bell and Rhoda.

They are smaller than the original dolls and, as these are very faded and worn in their original state, I have cleaned them up considerably.

At 72 dpi, they are not the very best print quality, but they are “not bad”.

They should print on to a A 4  piece of paper but, as they are not pdf files, the size will depend on the programme that you use to print them with – on the other hand, as they are not pdf files, you should be able to experiment with the sizing to some extent.

Open House Miniatures - Reproduction Victorian Paper Doll - Mary Bell open_house_miniatures_victorian_paper_doll_rhoda_72dpi_not_to_scale

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Open House Miniatures - 3 Houses from McLoughlin's Pretty Village

revitalised photo courtesy of http://www.picmonkey.com

I am not going to have a computer next week so I have been trying to cram everything computer-related into this week.

Naturally, I haven’t managed to do half of what I wanted to do, but before I disappear off-line I thought it would be nice to post a Make and Do, so here (in a bit of a rush) it is – with a little bit of explanation first.

I seldom make a limited edition of anything.

The Pretty Village was an exception to this rule because, although I like it very much, I could not bear the thought of making thousands and thousands of tiny houses – endlessly.

The last of the limited edition sets will be in the post this coming Monday, and so I wanted to have a little bit of fun, both to celebrate and say farewell.

The result was a different sort of “limited edition” – there are only three houses in this set and what you do with them is limited to your imagination.

I have  re-sized the houses to fractionally over 1/2″ (1.25 cm) tall and, although they are not “easy”, they should not be impossible to put together.

Open House Miniatures - McLoughlin's Pretty Village - House Assembly

I did photograph the “how to make” process but, unfortunately, it has been snowing on and off for a couple of days, and there was either too much reflected light (or not enough light ! ) to get good photographs – and not all the wonders of computer science could improve the photos much – so the following slide show is very uneven in quality.

The pdf  3_Pretty_Village_Houses_OHM_20130119   is, I hope, vastly better !

To escape from the slide show press the Esc key – it is usually in the top left hand corner of your keyboard

I hope you enjoy making these.

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May 2013 Update –

I have had several requests for the full village.

I am sorry, the full village is one of the very few things that I made as a limited edition and it is not available for download.

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open house miniatures - geometric rose rug chart

If you are like me, you will need the full chart for this rug – otherwise something will go horribly wrong with the other corners.

It is here Geometric_Rose_OHM_20130116

The design is based on one taken from a Victorian sampler. It is a fairly simple to work and gives a satisfying result.

On 22 count canvas it should be about 6.4 x 4.5 inches (16.2 x 11.3 cm)

There are a few more (non-floral) geometric rug charts on the projects page  and I will continue to add different designs from time to time. (When I find my carpet samples I will also add some photos ! )

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I do have another reason for today’s post.

I have been thinking about what to do next and looking back at the instructions on how to put the paper theatre together, I came to the conclusion that –

  1. The writing was rather small on the screen
  2. I need a better way to combine text and photos – sometimes I wasn’t sure which photo belonged to which piece of text.
  3. (I am lazy,) I need to find a more efficient (easier) way to upload a large amount of information to WordPress

So I thought I would experiment with a slideshow on Slideshare.

This is #3 and I think it is still far from perfect but, if you would like to know how I charted this design, you may find it interesting.

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Rococo en Miniature

Two things happened this morning.

It started snowing and I finally excavated my way down to the layer in my cupboard where my boxes of “flat things” are stored.

I am currently looking for my embroidered carpets and my old pattern books and I was hopeful that they might be in one of these boxes. They weren’t, but I did find my meagre collection of Miniaturas Magazines.

This effectively stopped me looking at anything else for several hours.

The magazines are superbly produced and there is not one that I would willingly part with, but if I could only keep one it would have to be edition Number 53.

This features, for the main centre fold-out, the work of Manfred Kiedorf and Gerhard Bätz.

Their fantastic creations are currently on display in the Thuringian State Museum, Heidecksburg. The museum website does provide information in English and the – wholly inadequate! – on-line picture gallery for the exhibition is here.

The artist’s site Rococo en Miniature is entirely in German, but there are more / better photos of the models there, (I kept getting random photos when I clicked through the photo-gallery, but it was rather fun not knowing what to expect next – and apparantly you need an up-to-date browser or you can’t see the larger images when you click on a thumbnail).


There are also details of the correspondence between the two men and examples from their notebooks –

And there is a (VERY) short film here.   (at the bottom of the page)

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The above photos are from my copy of Miniaturas – edition 53.

Miniaturas is a Spanish publication. It used to be issued monthly, and I think it is still only available on subscription. This was certainly the only way I could get copies when I was buying them, and I only stopped due to lack of space!

Email miniat@arrakis.es for subscription details  – the staff used to be fluent in English – BUT before you do, and it is a big BUT, the magazine is priced in Euros and around 10 years ago each issue was 5.11 Euros. I expect the price has increased since then and postage costs may well be high for countries outside the EU.

I had hoped to be able to write “Go To This Website To Get This Amazing Magazine” but when I googled “miniaturas construccion y coleccionismo” – which is the full title – I was rather disappointed to discover that their website was astonishingly sparse and devoid of information, pictures or publicity.

This made me wonder if they don’t need to advertise. They probably don’t, as they are very possibly (in my biased opinion) the best dolls’ house magazine EVER.

(I only inserted “possibly” in the previous sentence, because I know I have not seen every dolls’ house magazine in existence.)

I wouldn’t usually say this, because I prefer reading physical print publications, but roll on the day when there is an electronic version of Miniaturas available.

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My Dilemma

Open House Miniatures - dolls house paper theatre kit  prize Magazine - slightly over 12th scale

My New Year’s Resolution (as usual) involved tidying up and making room to work.

This Resolution then collided with Reality and caused a Dilemma.

To read about The Dilemma, please skip The Giveaway and scroll down.

The Giveaway

I have three sets of magazines (details in previous post) and a miniature card theatre (details in a previous post) and no space.

If I continue to create more printables (and try them out) I am going to have even less space.

So, if you would like a set of 6 miniature magazines, or the theatre (or both) please leave a comment at the bottom of this post letting me know if you would like the set of magazines made from –

  • Basic supermarket paper
  • Best quality eucalyptus paper (the paper does not smell, it is just paper made from fast-growing, “sustainable” wood)
  • Premium coated paper


  • the theatre

(you can, of course, also say something else like – “nice idea” – “are you mad?” – “more please!” – “when are you going to do a new printable?” etc.)

One comment per person, please.

If you would like the theatre and a set(s) of magazines, please say so in one comment.

When someone leaves a comment I will write their name and number on a piece(s) of paper and, depending on what they would like, that numbers will go into one of four separate bags.

The winners will be picked at random on Sunday (oops Sorry ! SATURDAY) 2nd February 2013, at midday (UK time).

(Remember, one comment each please. If you would like the theatre and 1/2/3 set(s) of magazines, I will make sure that your number is put in each bag.)

Please be aware –

  • When WordPress sends me notification that someone leaves a comment, they also include the sender’s email address – I never store, share or keep that email address.
  • I will contact the four winners via the comments on this blog (anyone who looks will be able to see who has won, and what).
  • I will also contact the winner(s) by the email address supplied by WordPress. At this point the winner(s) will need to give me a delivery address – I will not store, share or keep that delivery address.
  • I will put the magazines and theatre in the post as soon as possible, but delivery may take up to 14 days or, if the weather is bad where you live, even longer.

The Dilemma

I haven’t blogged for ages and this is my third blog post in under 24 hours.

What is going on ?

I did start to write an explanation and, after I had filled three sides of A4 paper, I concluded that a list was easier to read.

  1. Thanks to the nice person who commented a couple of days ago, asking about printables, I started to feel guilty
  2. I am a terrible record keeper (and I have been very busy)
  3. This blog is supposed to make me keep track of what I am doing (it’s not working)(and I have been very busy)
  4. I think blogging about “what I made this week” is Monumentally Boring (and I have been very busy)
  5. I like making things (and I have been very busy)
  6. I am interested in what other people make (I am never too busy for this)
  7. I like being able to share things to do and make (sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day)
  8. So do I –
    1. Make kits? This is not cost-effective – for me, or the person paying postage
    2. Make downloadable plans that have to be paid for? I doubt very much that anyone would buy them AND, even if they did, they would not be cost-effective for me
    3. Make  printable freebies for this blog? These are expensive time-wise and I can’t do them every week, but they do give me a chance to try out some ideas and they are a lot more fun than “blogging”

What do I do with the examples I make for the blog ?!?!?!

  1. Bin them? – I hate throwing things away – even failed projects have a box of their own ( Get a Grip, Elizabeth –  you do not have space for another box !!!!)
  2. Sell them? – 9 times out of 10 – this is not going to be cost-effective – for me, or the person paying postage
  3. Give them away?  – How?!?!?!? – I don’t belong to a miniaturist’s club, I am not going to any fairs soon/this year/ever again, and you’d be amazed how many people I know who Do Not Have The Slightest Interest in Dolls’ House Miniatures…

So I investigated the Online Giveaway Process – (and started to feel worried)

  • Rafflecopter, etc. = data capture (I do hope everyone keeps a separate email address especially for entering giveaways)
  • Facebook app thingy = you have got to be joking !!! (Advertising gone mad, why should everyone know what everyone else buys?)
  • Etsy Giveaway??? – Etsy provides a page full of links to individual blogs. They don’t host them.

Full circle back to this blog.

Result – The Giveaway

Open House Miniatures - doll house paper fairy Tale Theatre kit (made up)  Open House Miniature 12th Scale Prize Magazine for Children

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prize Magazine - slightly over 12th scale

The Prize Magazine was published for children in the late the late 1800s / early 1900s

Like The Strand Magazine, they were often bound into book form and it is slightly unusual to find complete ones, particularly earlier editions from the 1880s / 1890s.

I bought some covers (no interiors) dating from 1902 / 1903 a few years ago because I liked the pictures on the front.

There is a copy on eBay at the moment (from June 1902), if anyone would like to see an independent example of a full-size one.

The miniature versions are very easy to make and I only took photographs this afternoon because I was interested in trying out some new paper that I had.

So the difference the paper makes – ?

Open House Miniatures - Prize Magazine different papers

From left to right, the papers that I used are –

  • LEFT supermarket basic (thin and will yellow with age)
  • MIDDLE best acid free eucalyptus (should not yellow)
  • RIGHT premium coated inkjet paper (should not yellow)

– and the differences between them are not as marked in the photograph above as they are to the naked eye.

So what did I do – ?

Open House Miniatures - make miniature magazines -score central crease 1st

First, I scored the central crease on the spine – to make folding easier

(the example in the photo is of inkjet paper, notice how the coated surface is lifting.)

Open House Miniatures - Prize Magazine - trim top

and then I cut along the top of the magazine – this makes lining up the back and the front covers easier.

(The example in the photo is printed on the basic supermarket paper – notice how it is not as smooth as the inkjet paper and how the ink has spread, making it slightly blurry)

Opne House Miniatures - 12th scale magazine - white interior

Then, when everything was folded and firmly creased, I cut round the other edges.

(the example in the photo is of coated inkjet paper, notice how white the interior is compared to the cover.)

Open Hose Miniatures - coaxing the magazine to stay shut

The thicker the paper is, the less the magazine wants to stay “folded”, so…


Next I took some pale lemon yellow tissue paper (this was the only pale colour I had to hand – a nice off white, buff tint would have been better) and very lightly glued two folded sheets inside the cover. This held the covers closed and gave  the magazine a little bit of (non-white) bulk without making it unwieldy.

(Don’t glue right up to the edge of the cover and leave everything looking a little bit “loose” for the most realistic effect)

Open House Miniature 12th Scale Prize Magazine for Children

Then I trimmed the tissue paper using scissors, so that it showed a little unevenly behind the cover.


The covers of the original magazines vary a little bit in size, but on average they are around 9″ x 6.3/4″

So, at 1 inch tall, these miniature versions are slightly larger than 12th scale.

The copies that I made, do not open, but they do look quite realistic lying around, and I was rather pleased with the result.

In conclusion

  • the coated paper did give the crispest print and the best colour reproduction, but it was rather bulky and I know that the coating is prone to flaking off, unless sealed
  • the best eucalyptus paper (which should not discolour) had an attractive finish, but it was rather stiff and thick
  • the cheapest, basic supermarket paper (which will yellow and age) actually worked best – in my opinion – as it had somehow had the soft, rubbed, aged effect of the originals.

If you want to make magazines that open, so that your dolls’ house children can read them, I suggest painting one side of a piece of paper with cold tea or coffee to make it off-white. Before putting the stained paper through you printer, and printing on the unstained side. Please make sure that it is completely dry and as flat as possible, before printing on it.

I now have 3 sets (18 copies) of The Prize magazine – and a dilemma…

But that is going to have to wait until later – and a new post.

Here is the pdf for all six covers – The_Prize_Magazine_OHM_20130109

It is also on the  Project Page with a few other things to make and do.

Happy Making !

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UPDATE: 1st November 2015

As well as a few more magazine to make on the old Projects Page, there are now some magazines more available on the new Printables Page.

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Robert Opie's Victorian Scrapbook - endpaper

Robert Opie’s Victorian Scrapbook.

ISBN 1872727735

62 pages, full colour throughout (photographs by Paul Forrester)

Copyright 1995 Robert Opie and  New Cavendish Books

(and if any of the above ask me to remove these photographs I will do so immediately)

Robert Opie started to collect ephemera at an early age.

The collection grew steadily to embrace toys, magazines, technology, travel, souvenirs, fashion and design – and a very small portion of it is now featured in a series of books

These are very generously sized – 38cm x 26.7cm – and I have found them to be an invaluable reference for getting the “feel” of a period right.

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising  ( in London) now houses Robert Opie’s collection and it is very well worth a visit.

Sadly, the website for the museum is not very exciting, although it is clearly laid out and does provide details of access, opening times and an opportunity to buy the books – and I would encourage anyone who is interested in historical detail to add these to their collection immediately.

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I like to imagine that Robert Opie’s parents Peter and Iona Opie encouraged their son in his efforts, as they were dedicated researchers and collectors too.


10th May, 2013

The Londonist has a podcast interview with Robert Opie.

The pair tour the museum, discuss the history of product advertising and to what extent brands reflect contemporary culture and lifestyle.


I enjoy the Londonist podcasts and I hope that you will too

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