Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Yootha Rose - British Pathe News Film Footage

I have just had a piece of really good luck.

I have been looking everywhere on-line for references to someone called Yootha Rose and it turns out that she is this month’s

“Personality of the Month” on the Royal Pavillion, Museums & Libraries website

I don’t know how long her (very) short biography is going to be available there –

Yootha Rose was born in Australia in 1899 when her father, the singer Charles Rose, was touring with Nellie Melba.

Afterwards the family returned to England and, when she was 18, Yootha joined a concert party and entertained troops during the First World War. She then went on to design sets for various West End musicals.

During the Second World War, she taught at a school in Dorset and it was here that she began making toys. She was a success, making 16 toys for the ‘Britain Can Make It’ exhibition and received orders for 40,000 more.

She also provided toys for royalty, including a roundabout for Prince Charles and dolls for Princess Anne.

Using pottery, wood, paper and fabrics, she created a wide range of toys, from carved wooden balloonists to tinsel angels.

In 1952, Yootha was appointed a trustee of the National Toy Museum. Seven years later she became its Honorary Curator. The Museum moved to the Grange in Rottingdean in 1959 and the collection was taken over by the Brighton Corporation in 1971.

It finally moved to Hove Museum & Art Gallery where many items from the collection are on display in the Wizard’s Attic gallery.

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Why I am looking for information on Yootha Rose is a long and involved story (with which I will not bore you).

Part of the very, very involved explanation is that a couple of weeks ago I was trying to think of dolls’ house / miniatures related places to visit (in the UK).

They certainly exist in the real world, but finding them on- line is well-nigh impossible.

Try  finding photographs? – forget it !

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I am now going to make some sweeping (possibly untrue) generalisations, but please bear with me –

Generalisation Number 1

The culture in the UK is literal and literary.

We write words here. Shakespeare, Milton, Donne, Swift, Addison, Bronte, Austen, Thackeray, Dickens, more that I can possibly name, Terry Pratchett…

(People like Robert Adam did “useful” things like architecture.)

Pictures are not very “useful”. They maybe nice to look at but they are not “useful” – unless they are a diagram and come with a nice written description.

This gives me a bit of a problem when someone asks me if there is anywhere they can go to look at dolls’ houses and miniatures in the UK.

I can tell people about –

The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood

(their virtual tour doesn’t work on my computer)


The Museum of London (London Wall site)

I can suggest to people that they should visit places such as –

Spencer House

(Never mind the (wonderful) model that Mulvany and Roger’s created, you can walk around inside the real thing).


Hever Castle

(The last time I visited Hever, John Hodgson’s (very fine) models were still on display, but I can’t find a reference to them on the Castle’s website).

(I have called the above “models” and not dolls’ houses on purpose. Words matter.)

I can then suggest that people (once they know what to look for) visit Flickr, or Picasa, or their photo-sharing site of choice, in the hopes that a nice person has been allowed to take photographs.

However, in most places you are –

 Not Allowed to Take Photographs and Will be Asked to Leave if you Do.

I don’t blame the museums / galleries for this apparent lack of understanding.

I have been to Paris once in my life, and the trip contained a visit to The Louvre.

I was bemused at the way a number of visitors dashed around taking photographs of everything with their mobile phones.

They didn’t appear to be looking at anything, just dash, stop, hold up phone, click, next, dash, stop, hold up phone, click, next…

But then, art galleries are (if you ask me) fairly weird places anyway.

The paintings weren’t painted to be displayed like that, were they?

If you can make only one trip this summer, it must be to Houghton Hall in Norfolk. Over a period of five months, Houghton will stage one of the most outstanding exhibitions ever seen in a British country house. Over 60 paintings from the great collection amassed in the mid-18th century by Sir Robert Walpole, and later bought by Catherine the Great of Russia, will return from St Petersburg to Houghton Hall. More than that, thanks to lists, inventories and even the recently discovered original hanging plans found neatly folded in a drawer in Walpole’s desk, most of the paintings will hang in the same positions that they occupied in the 1740s. The grandest will be back in the great gilded frames first designed for them by William Kent.


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Generalisation Number 2

The majority of the British population think that –

  • Dolls’ Houses are toys.
  • Toys are for children.
  • Dolls’ Houses are for children and therefore “childish”.

In my experience, my most people, on seeing a dolls’ house item that does not fit into clear category of “a toy designed to be played with by children” (i.e. not plastic, not Lego, not packaged), will say –

“That’s nice. Isn’t is small. What’s it for?”

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How depressing can I be…?

I know of three magazines devoted to dolls’ houses and miniatures in the UK.

In no particular order they are –

The Dolls’ House Magazine

Dolls House and Miniature Scene

Dollshouse World

In the interests of research, I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to find any of these in my local shops.

However, they are not stocked anywhere locally and so, as I don’t read any of them on subscription, I can’t tell you anything about their contents.

Christiane Berridge is editor of The Dolls’ House Magazine and in a interview she described the typical reader of her magazine as –

Female, +45, family focused, general interest in crafts, a home-lover, her dolls’ house will be a form of escape from her ‘real’ life.

(The full interview is here – http://www.featuresexec.com/bulletin/interview_article.php?id=7483#.UZdI30p7TAk )

( By the way, there are plenty of magazines on model railways and model-making for war-gaming to be found in even my small, independent newsagent.)

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The point of all this being?

The UK dolls’ house world (as I know it) is very well hidden.

There is no way of showing places that don’t allow photographs.

There is no way of showing the work of makers who have absolutely no interest in having their work in magazines, let alone, perish the thought, on-line!

(You will have to trust me and believe that such people exist.)

So it is not possible to to show the very small, nearly invisible, secret, obscure, intensely creative British dolls’ house world that I know exists.

However, the weather has been appalling recently (rain, rain and more rain) and it has been impossible to take photographs, or make slideshows, so I have been using my “internet time” to play with Pinterest.

Firstly, because I needed somewhere to keep my “this might interest you to visit” links and then as a sort of a challenge –

I know about this, does it exist on-line?

Why doesn’t it exist on-line?

Is it called / masquerading as something else?

Found it !!!!

If you would like to see the result of my efforts so far, my miniscule Pinterest collection, it is here – http://pinterest.com/ohmep

Open House Miniatures on Pinterest

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Finally, if you find your blog or website on one of my Pinterest boards and would like me to remove it, please let me know and I will do so at once.

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Oh No…

I have just had a notification regarding “spam” email from WordPress.

Unfortunately, some of it is not “spam” at all.

I would like to apologise to everyone who left a message on “My Dilemma”, and who did not get an acknowledgement.

In particular to  Le Minis di Cockerina, who left me a kind message and whose very enjoyable blog (I love the selection of Christmas miniatures) is here http://leminisdicockerina.blogspot.it/

I am truly sorry.

WordPress has something called Askimet and this filters out “spam” emails.

I could switch Askimet off, but when I do this I receive a huge number of peculiar messages. Admittedly some of them have very inventive addresses which (sometimes) make me laugh, but despite this they are still not my favourite reading matter.

So, dilemma time again…

I could say, the first person to leave a comment gets the “giveaway”, which would be nice and quick from my point of view, but it is unfair because of time zones and Askimet.

I could promise to check my “spam” folder – this sounds sensible and practical but will I remember to do it?

If I feel guilty enough, I might.

So, as I am feeling more than just a bit guilty, I will try one more time.

These fans are too delicate to survive in my “Think About These” box.


I had help with these photos


The black shape is the top of a bottle of Hugo Boss aftershave.

If anyone would like a fan, please leave me a comment, letting me know which colour tassels you would prefer.

You can say both if you like.

I will check my “spam” folder daily.

On the 1st of March, a friend of mine will pick two names/numbers, and I will contact the winners.

Lastly, but by no means least, Ersilia of  Dadasdollhouse  mentioned that when she makes fans she uses fans from the Graphics Fairy’s online collection.

Ersilia’s (dual language !) blog is well worth a visit. It features some excellent projects to make and her collection of links for printable materials is truly impressive. (You may need to scroll down to see Materiale da stampare – Printies on the right hand side of the page).

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Please see “How to Make a Miniature (printed) Fan” if you are interested in how I made these / would like to make one yourself.

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Britannia House

Britannia House Catalogue - The Drawing Room, Colefax and Fowler

Britannia House Catalogue - The Drawing Room

I had a sharp reminder today that I am ancient, and practically deserve the honourable title of Dinosaur.

It happened like this – I wanted to check who had decorated the Drawing Room in Britannia House; I thought that Colefax and Fowler had been responsible, but I wasn’t sure.

So I Googled Britannia House – and was amazed that I could not find a single reference to it ANYWHERE …

I was perplexed – we are talking about a Kevin Mulvany house here – surely it was documented SOMEWHERE …

But, no it wasn’t – at least if it was, it was so well hidden that I could not find it.

So I had to go to our bookcase and find a catalogue !

An actual paper catalogue !!!

Which, I discovered, had been produced in the 1980s – long before the advent of home computers – over twenty years ago now…

And yet I vividly remember standing (at the end of a very long day) in a very cold, draughty, deserted hall looking at Britannia House, and thinking, ‘What a lot of work!’

How I wanted the fat, comfy armchair that is tucked away in the corner of The Pink Bedroom, how I admired the exquisite needlework carpets, how I wanted to live in a house that had a real life version of the Drawing Room.

I didn’t give it a thought at a the time, but now I wish that a record had been made of all the little miniatures that give the rooms their air of being lived in – but as this was An Exhibition of British Interior Design in Miniature and not a Dolls’ House Show, and the individual makers are not credited in the catalogue.

(All I can say for certain is that none of my work is there ! )

I hope you enjoy looking at this piece of ancient history. Some of the photographs are distorted at the edge: this is how they are in the catalogue – they were taken in the days before the handy little computer button that corrected ‘fisheye’ had been invented.

Britannia House was commissioned in order to raise funds for the African Medical and Research Foundation. The East African Flying Doctors Service is still in operation – please visit their site if you would like to know more about their work, or to donate funds.

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My last big box of fireworks went to a customer in Holland at the beginning of this month and I was surprised how hard it was to see it go.

I felt I would like to do something to mark the occasion and so recorded the final ceremonial wrapping.

I have had many generous comments about my packaging, and so here is a brief overview of how to make a small, tough box from second-hand cardboard.

Find something that is just a little bit larger than the item you are going to post

Find something that is just a little bit larger than the item you are going to post

I have a collection of plastic pots that I keep for just this purpose !

I have a collection of plastic pots that I keep for just this purpose !

Take thin, flexible, corrugated card.

I often re-use Amazon boxes in this way – their cardboard is excellent quality !

Cut strips of card – just a little bit deeper than the object you are posting.

Cut the card and across the grain – so that you can see the curl of the inner structure

Take thinish, flexible, corrugated card - I often re-use Amazon boxes in this way as their cardboard is excellent !

Wrap this strip, or strips if you find you need more than one, around your shape - two thickness of card is usually enough

Unwrap the strip, apply glue to the inside and then coil it round the shape again

Hold it until the glue sticks, or use a piece of sellotape to keep the end in place

Then apply glue to one end and stick the coiled cardboard to another piece of cardboard

Sometimes I use slightly thicker cardboard for the base and the top

Make sure it is dry before you use it !

When you are sure it is dry, cut away the the excess from the outside of the base and cut a lid for the top

Wrap your item in tissue paper - this will protect it and help to stop it moving about

Some items are very light and delicate - it is better not to wrap these tightly

Some items are very light and delicate - it is better not to wrap these tightly

Sellotape the lid in place

Put the finished package in a padded bag - ready for taking to the Post Office

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Really Useful Boxes

I want to sing the praises of the Really Useful Boxes that I was given for Christmas.

They are very nicely made and come in a variety of sizes and colours.

The locking system that keeps the lid securely in place is ingenious, easy to operate and really works !

( no more nasty surprises as tiny things fall out all over the floor !!! )

In short, I love them.

They are the safest, strongest and most satisfying storage that I have ever used.

And absolutely ideal for keeping your precious treasures safe !

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I am Depressed….

It was a grey old day yesterday and I think some of the grim grey seeped in to my bones.

Outside Miniatura - September 2011

I did some maths while we were aqua-planeing, in the pouring rain down the motorway, on the way home from Birmingham…

UK minimum wage 2011   £6.08 per hour

35 hour week  £212.80 per week

52 weeks in the year £11,065.60 per annum

less tax and national insurance    £8,299.20 – as approximately 25% taken in deductions

Required income per month  £ 691.60 – as according to above, this is what you officially need to ‘survive’

So a miniaturist would need to make and SELL (!!!) goods to the value of £691.60 per month in order to ‘survive’

This is before cost of materials has been deducted

To exhibit at Miniatura would take nearly half a month’s income           –         £300 per table (!!!)

The actual audience at a fair is very limited in size – even if it is keenly interested

End result – Miniatura is pricing themselves out of existence

Also, the poor miniaturist now has to churn out so much stock, in order to ‘survive’, that quality and spontaneity is bound to suffer

In addition to which, there are now so many imports, usually made on an industrial scale in China, that the expectation of what prices should be is, in reality, completely unrealistic.

I then lay awake for most of the night and worried about the maths…

Which, of course, means that I am in no state to make anything today…

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This slideshow ought to have a backing tack of Elvis Presley singing ‘ Did you Ever Have One of Those Days Boys’…

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