Archive for August, 2018

The 'E' House completed - and outsize house plan

I am going to count this house as one of my notable failures.

The most glaring fault is the room divider between the kitchen and the hall. It isn’t wide enough to hold the full length of the ground floor securely. It is all right if you don’t wiggle the ground floor, but someone is almost certainly going to be tempted to do this at some point.

Added to which, I don’t like dolls’ houses with walls that are covered in pictures of furniture. (This is very narrow-minded of me.)

All in all it is an idea that needs more work than I have time to give it (at the moment).

That said, I still think that it was a fun idea. So if you would like to try making The ‘E’ House for yourself, the plans are at the end of this blog entry. There are also a list of the materials that I used and basic written instructions (sorry, no slideshow this time).

If you would like to know how I struggled with an idea that did not turn out as I hoped, read on (and avoid the pitfalls that I fell in to):

The Idea was:

  • A bright, modern dolls’ house
  • Slender so that could hang on a wall
  • With something ‘different’ about it

I ended up with this design:

The 'E' House - basic structure

– which is not what I call exciting, innovative or even encouraging – even though I daringly off-set the wall dividers.

With a nod to the distinctive, exciting and innovative house designed by Laurie Simmons and Peter Wheelwright for Bozart

The Kaleidescope House - conceived and designed by Laurie Simmons and architect Peter Wheelwright.

I had wondered about incorporating some plastic panels (the plastic came from the covers of a couple of ring binders)

The 'E' House - plastic panels

The second floor has an indent to accommodate the panel

– but looking at the panels, once they were in place, I wanted them to move – either to slide or to swing open and this would have meant framing the panels so that they could be hinged effectively.

So I abandoned the plastic panels – which I still think were a good idea – and decided to have an open plan house.

But what was I going to do with the inside?

I did try some tiny print wallpapers but, because you can see the whole house in a glance, they had to be very nearly identical or they clashed – horribly.

I must have been fairly desperate at this point because I considered a tried and trusted decorative style, which I truly dislike.

The 'E' House - interior papers (on card)

This is what I ended up with. Don’t ask how long it took. Just don’t.

I dislike ‘furniture wallpaper’ (as I call it) so much that I despaired and decided to try paint, and spray-painted the house with fast drying, spirit-based paint. It was supposed to be white paint, but it turned out to be cream, and it brought out the ‘grain’ of the cut edges. (This is avoidable; I had been lazy and hadn’t sealed the edges before painting).

The 'E' House - spray painted

I spray paint out of doors, in a box lined with removable paper. As a change from my usual problem with rain, it was so hot that the paint was almost dry as soon as it left the can.

Maybe more COLOUR was the answer ?!

The 'E' House - side view - painted roof

It was at this point, and feeling rather grim, that I decided to call this The ‘E’ House (‘E’ for Everlasting, not Elizabeth) and throw it away before I wasted any more time on it. Needless to say: I failed to throw it away.

The following day, the tricky manoeuvre of fitting the decorative papers into the house – which was already firmly glued together – was accomplished.

After which I really would have been happy to throw house away and never try to make anything like it ever again. Ever.

Luckily, shortly after this, a surprise visitor turned up and the house found a new home elsewhere – thank goodness !

The 'E' House - and new owner

Finished size:

Height: 1 and 3/4 inches (4.4 cm)

Width: just under 2 inches (5 cm)

Depth: just over 3/4 of an inch (2 cm)


pdf of the house plans – OHM_201809_’E’_House-plans

pdf of the interior decoration – OHM_201809_’E’_House-interior

  • Basic home printer
  • Mountboard (I used A4 Daler Rowney from Amazon)
    I think it is called ‘Matboard’ or ‘Mounting Board’ in the United States
  • Laminated printer paper (like this)
  • Basic printer paper
  • A very sharp knife (I use a craft knife with a blade that snaps off – like this)
  • A metal ruler
  • A solid surface on which to cut the mountboard
  • White wood-working glue (I used Evostick)
  • A small paintbrush
  • Paint (of your choice – I would avoid watercolour paint because it fades relatively quickly)
  • Varnish (of your choice)
  • I do not recommend using a hairdryer or heat gun to speed up the drying process. In my experience, the intense heat from both of these tends to warp the mountboard

Please remember that the materials that you use will affect the look of the house. For example: laminated printer paper gives a much crisper look than even good quality card (see below) and the thickness of card / board used will affect the overall appearance considerably.

The 'E' House - difference in printing results

What I suggest doing:

Print the decorative papers on the laminated printer paper and set them aside to dry

The 'E' House - wall panels

Print the house plan on basic printer paper

Stick the basic paper to the mountboard
Let this dry completely (under a book or other heavy weight to keep it flat, if necessary)

Cut out the house pieces carefully – it is up to you whether you would like an indented second floor or not

Check that the floors and back wall match in length exactly

Measure the width of the dividing walls and cut strips of mountboard of the required width

Seal all the cut edges of the mountboard with a thin layer of glue (this should give you a better finish that my spray painted effort)
Let the glue dry completely

Paint the mountboard with paint of your choice – top tip: don’t use very watery paint. If you do it will un-stick the glue and make the mount-board swell up
Let the paint dry completely

Glue the Ground Floor to the bottom edge of the Back Wall.

The 'E' House - back view

The roof sits on top of the back wall and the ground floor is in front of the back wall.
Always let the glue dry completely

Glue the decorative paper for the back of the rooms to the back of the house – you will probably need to trim the kitchen and hall floor, so that it looks ‘right’

Alternatively, you can glue each room down individually.
Let this dry completely

While it is drying, glue the decorative panels to the strips of mountboard that you have cut. The panels do not have to be cut to an exact height at this point, but they do have to have the ‘correct’ panels in place e.g. nursery/ bedroom, bedroom / bathroom, kitchen / hall.
Let these dry completely

Then cut the kitchen / hall room divider so that it fits the space between the Ground Floor and the Second Floor and glue it in place
Let it dry completely

Glue the second floor into place
Let it dry completely

Cut the remaining room dividers so that they reach ceiling height – cut the top at the angle of the roof if you wish – and glue them in place
Let them dry completely

Glue the roof in place. I didn’t cut angles for the apex of the roof. Angled joints seem to be out of fashion of at the moment, so I simply left a small gully.
NB Working with the back of the house on a flat surface will make it easier to get a neat join at the back
Let the glue dry completely

Repaint the roof and the back of the house. Re-touch any other paint work that needs it.

(optional) When the paint is dry, seal the surfaces with a varnish of your choice – the varnish used for finishing does depend on what paint you have used. I used a mixture of acrylic paints for the red. The off-white colour was fast-drying spray paint. The spray paint was a bad choice because it raised the grain on the cut edges of the board, but it does have a nice shiny finish on the surface of the mountboard

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As with all the projects that are freely available on this blog: Please don’t sell the plans for this house, or the interior decoration.

If you would like to sell the house that you make, please think about the ground floor and find a way to make it more stable : )

If you decide to make a replica / tribute to the Bozart Kaleidoscope House in miniature, a credit to the designers would be appreciated:


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About the adverts:

WordPress sometimes places advertisments on the blogs that they host: they need the money to keep WordPress on-line.

By paying a small amount of money I could have these advertisements removed. I choose not to do this – I need every penny for paint, and glue, and card, and paper, and wood, and all sorts of other things too.




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Kristin Baybars - name detail

Two blog posts in a week! What is going on? I haven’t blogged in ages because I have no ‘blogging time’ to spare. But I think this is important and so some other things have had to wait.

Charlotte Stokoe, organiser of the London Dolls’ House Festival (producer) and Fred Burns (director) have made a film called A Pathway of Crumbs. (see previous blog post) about Kristin Baybars, who is the owner of a very special, almost indescribable shop / toy collection in Gospel Oak, London.

I have watched  A Pathway of Crumbs several times now. And, interesting though it is, I have yet to catch more than the faintest flavour of the person whose life and work it is supposed to document. This bothers me because I think that Kristin’s life and work are worth documenting – fully and properly.

It is quite possible that the qualities that make Kristin Kristin are impossible to capture on film. I am certain that I could not do it, not least because I would have to learn all the technical skills necessary in order to make the attempt.

I did try to write down what I thought about her and ended up with a nebulous list of qualities, rather than actions with dates attached to them. So here, for what it is worth, are some of the things that I think are most important – I have left out more that you can imagine, if I hadn’t I would have been writing for years.

Creativity – throughout her life Kristin has made things. She understands, from the inside out, about making things. She created the Ostrobogulous toy range.

Those of you who watched Play School on the BBC as a child will recognise Humpty and Jemima – well, Humpty was designed by Kristin.

And now there are miniature Humptys at Kristin’s (although these were not made by Kristin, herself.)

Kristin Baybars - miniature humptys

When I first knew Kristin, she had just been asked to make, among other things a  number of miniature cricket bats and tennis racquets to go in sports themed presentation cases. A little later on, and over a number of years, she made a series of tiny wooden jig-saw puzzles. What I find truly remarkable is that she found (and still finds) the time and enthusiasm to encourage other people to make things too.

Dedication – if you are not a shop keeper you will have to exercise your imagination for this… It Is Hard Work… Never Ending Hard Work…You Have to Find the Stock…

Kristin Baybars - dolls house detail

If your stock is unusual and not to be found in a warehouse this is: Even More Hard Work…

Kristin Baybars - wooden mechanical toy camel

Then you have to unpack your stock, clear away the packing, price the stock, arrange it,

Kristin Baybars - miniature clothes hanging up

look after it,

kristin baybars - philip beglan doll painting a pillar box

allow people to buy the things you love, re-order (when possible) what you have sold,

Kristin Baybars - dollhouse interior detail - kitchen table

and that is just for starters.

Now consider the sort of things that are in Kristin’s shop:  toys that are not stocked in most shops because they are not a standard, packaged-in-plastic size,

Kristin Baybars - toy ship and fish

unique things,

Kristin Baybars - seen through shelves of toys

delicate miniatures…

Kristin Baybars - miniature mechanical toys

If Kristin was not utterly and completely dedicated to what she does she could not have done it at all, let alone continue to do it for years and years and years.

Kristin Baybars - dollshouse interior

‘Fauvist Inspiration’ –

fauvism - kristin baybars shop front

I am not trying to say that Kristin’s shop (particularly the front) is Fauvist, but I would never have looked at a Fauvist painting ‘properly’ if I hadn’t seen Kristin’s shop front. And now Fauvist paintings, with their unexpected colours, are a great joy to me. Kristin and her shop have this effect on me: they are make me look at things afresh. They expand my mental horizons.

Helpful Advice – it would be impossible for me to relate all the advice that Kristin has given me over the years, there is so much of it. One of the earliest pieces has stuck with me though. It sounds quite simple and yet it is vital: ‘Babies eyes are in the middle of their faces.’

Elizabeth Plain - miniature baby dolls

Try making a doll, which is I was doing when Kristin told me this, and see how important it is to get the position of the eyes exactly right.

Imagination –

Kristin Baybars - facebook - the ghost of marie antoinette sets up a cake shop

‘The ghost of Marie Antoinette has set up a cake shop at Kristin Baybars’

When I saw this it set me thinking: What sort of cake shop would Marie Antoinette have? Would she have a very flouncy apron? Would she have to wear one of those bakery caps? Do ghosts have the same rules and regulations that we seem to have? I wonder what the court painter would have made of her and her cakes?  Would he have to be a ghost too, or maybe he would be a very brave (or scared) mortal.

I am going to stop now, before I drift off into a dissertation about the French Revolution, interwoven with remarks about some Louis XVI sugar decoration moulds that I once saw. This is what Kristin and her shop have always done for me: fired my imagination, allowed me to think, to ask questions, to have ideas.

In conclusion, I know that this small, vividly coloured, crowded shop, ‘in the middle of nowhere’ is not going to be to everyone’s taste. But if it suits you, you will love it.

Please go there before it vanishes. It is unique and you will not see its like again.

Kristin Baybars, 7 Mansfield Road, Gospel Oak, London, NW3 2JD

Telephone: 020 7267 0934

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Kristin-Baybars

Usual opening hours Tuesday to Saturday, 12 noon to 5pm.

Please check this information before visiting – it may be out of date by the time you read this.

Kristin Baybars - film still - detail of front door

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A Pathway of Crumbs…

A Pathway of Crumbs - a film about the life and work of Kristin Baybars

I have a dilemma (again). You may have noticed that I get them now and then.

A friend has just sent me a copy of a short film about the life and work of Kristin Baybars, owner of possibly the most amazing shop that most people have never heard of.

The film is Called A Pathway of Crumbs and I had four main reactions when I watched it.

1. my personal reaction:  What can I do to help save Kristin’s shop ?

2. the miniaturist reaction: Why are the amazing jig-saws that Kristin used to make not mentioned ? And what about the beautiful, tiny, wooden ark that she made ? What happened to the huge the dolls’ house that she made when she was at school ?

3. personal reaction again: I can’t comment on the technical side of this, but I am going to stop the film so that I can look at David Ward’s work. Ten Thousand Curses, I Was Looking at That… Thank Heaven for the Pause Button… etc.

4. personal reaction yet again: This is not ‘easy’ viewing in places. One of Kristin’s friends, Janet, contracted meningitis and, in order to save her life, had to have what is euphemistically termed ‘life changing surgery’. Kristin, herself, is growing old. This is real life, not a pretty advert for a unique shop.

I hope you can now understand why I felt that I had a dilemma. I haven’t been asked to review this DVD, yet I found it evocative and emotive and think that it is worth seeing. I think it will interest people and yet I hesitate to recommend it because it is not ‘pretty’ and does not fit in with the generally cosy image of the dolls’ house world. My perception of the dolls’ house world being  that, for a great many people, for a great deal of the time, it is a haven and an escape from the cares of the ‘real’ world. And a good and necessary addition to the ‘real’ world too because, would you like to live without your imagination?: I wouldn’t.

The online-trailer, although brief, is (I think) wonderful.

It is possible to watch the whole film on-line – on Vimeo – at a very reasonable £3.99 to hire (48 hour access), or £6.99 to download and watch at any time.

The DVD is also available to buy from The London Dolls’ House Festival – payment details are at the bottom of the page.

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The following short films, also about Kristin Baybars, are charming and free to watch online:

David Ward miniature cat in Kristin Baybars dollhouseLondon Film School – KRISTIN BAYBARS

Talking with Kristin – an 80-year-old toy shop owner in North London – is a lesson in true values and authenticity. Above all she is inspiring, she inspires you to start creating yourself, using your hands, but mainly she inspires you to change your way of thinking. Toys are used as a medium to reveal Kristin and her values, which allow her world to exist. A little journey, escaping from reality but at the same time returning to what really matters…

Running time: 9 min 3 sec

Year of production: 2012

Watch now

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This little place in gospel oak - a film about kristin baybars

Kentish Towner – Kristin Baybars’ ‘Little Place in Gospel Oak’

Filmmaker Alexander Osman has made a short docudrama that captures some of the unique atmosphere of her shop, with a rare cameo role from the softly spoken 80-year-old Kristin herself…

Running Time: 6 minutes 9 sec

Year of production: 2014

Watch now

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Watching A Pathway of Crumbs was a rather odd experience for me. You see, I have been inside Kristin’s shop and it brought home to me, yet again, the fact that looking at things on-screen is no substitute for real-life experience. I can’t describe Kristin or her shop adequately in words. I can only urge dolls’ house enthusiasts and lovers of finely made, intelligent, thought-about, toys to make the journey to Gospel Oak and experience the wonders of Kristin’s shop for themselves.

Do check the shop opening times before you go. Much to my astonishment, I found that Kristin Baybars now has a page on Facebook, where there are updates on what is going on and contact details.

For those of you who are not Facebook fans (and I have to admit that I am not a happy Facebook user):


Kristin Baybars

7 Mansfield Road,

Gospel Oak,



Phone: (UK code 44) 20 7267 0934

kristin baybars map and link to google page


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