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Archive for the ‘Website Review’ Category

You may have noticed that, although I do mention other websites and blogs from time to time, I don’t have a side-bar list of links on display.

This isn’t because I don’t appreciate the work of other bloggers, but because I know that I don’t have the time to maintain an up-to-date list.

WordPress statistics tell me that the following websites and bloggers have been kind enough to host a link to my blog this year and  over the past month I have checked that the links are live.

I look forward to doing more in-depth reading over the Christmas Holidays, with many thanks to all the following:

MINIATURES

Dada’s Dollhouse

Bickersgracht in miniature

Nuestras Minis – miniatures

Maria Inez Garibaldi

Kunnen nukkekoti

Minitarinat

Miniature Dreamworld – miniatures

Mini Foreningen

Le Petit monde Merveilleux de Marie

Villa Rendezvous ja muita tarinoita – miniatures

Wasting Gold Paper

Anajah’s Favoriten – a collection of dolls’ house projects to do

Dolls’ House Past and Present – miniatures and quarterly on-line magazine

So Mini Projects

One Tiny Little Thing

And then there are:

PRINTABLES

Jennifer’s Printables – printable things for miniature homes

Amy’s Wandering – printable nativity scenes, other printables and home schooling

PAPERCRAFT

Papermau – papercraft, models to make

Tektonen – papercraft, models to make

PaperCraftSquare – papercraft, models to make

AND

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

Minitreasures – a Wiki for miniatures

Freubelweb – crafts, paper projects

* * *

Finally, a special mention for littleglitterhouses.com, which has downloadable plans for many small building projects, some of which can be adapted for miniature use.

open-house-miniatures-christmas-2015-glitter-houses-and-bird-tree

I was looking for information on nativity sets when I came across the website and was amused at the way little snow scene houses (aka “putz”, or “glitter houses”) have travelled around the world and the ways in which they have changed in design as they did so.

For the record, these little houses  existed in the UK too. I can remember, when I was very young, helping to make a small village (there was even a postbox!) from cereal box card and gummed coloured paper. The glitter that we used came in a box and the flakes were large, flat and translucent – fascinatingly and memorably different to the silver glitter that came in a glass tube.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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paper model kiosk - paper nativity download - free

This is going to sound rushed, because I am supposed to be doing something else this morning, but I saw this and I thought it was too good to miss.

crechemania - paper model kiosk - excellent quality - free nativity download

Paper Model Kiosk (aka Crechemania) have a very large collection of downloadable paper nativities on their entrancing, enthralling, amazing website. Some of them, like the miniature example above are free. (Miniature in this case = 3 x 1.5 x 3.5 inches)

The downloads page for all their nativity sets is here.

To use the site and receive a download, you need to register your email address.

When you ask for a free (I MUST NOT, (cannot) buy them all, although I want to) download, a link that is live for one hour is sent to your email address. By clicking on the link in the email, you are re-directed to the Crechemania website and can then download a pdf of your selected nativity.

I have just tried this out and encountered one minor problem – the registration part of Paper Model Kiosk’s site did not work smoothly for me in Firefox. It was, however, fine in Google.

I am going to repeat the Crechemania Free Download Service agreement here :-

By using this Crechemania Free Download Service I agree with the Crechemania.com download policy; that these downloads are copyrighted material; that they are for my personal use only. I may download as many items as I wish; as many times as I wish; print as many as I wish; assemble as many as I wish; give away as many as I wish. But I may not sell them; offer them for sale on Internet sites; post these as Downloads on my Web site; or mailing lists; and I agree to the receipt of Crèchemania.com email notices and newsletters about crèche downloads, news, and information; and I understand that I may receive periodic emails notifying me of Chrèchemania news and updates.

Afterword

Any advertisements that you see on this on this blog page, are not mine.

WordPress has to fund this “free” weblog service somehow and so they sell advertising space to third parties

I could, by paying WordPress a small amount of money, stop the adverts appearing here.

I haven’t done this – and considering that I could buy a couple of nativities for the same money, can you blame me?

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Open House Miniatures - Spoonflower - Test Fabric

It is certainly possible to print onto fabric at home (See Bits and Pieces for an example) but it is not something that I would encourage anyone to do, unless they have a printer that can cope with fabric.

The printers that I buy are designed  to print letters and invoices etc, and they tend to jam if I ask them to print on anything much thicker than thin card.

This being so, I only attempt to print onto fabric when I know that my printer is about to expire and I am going to need a new one soon anyway.

There are other reasons for getting fabrics commercially printed. Here are some random examples –

  • Cost – believe it or not, given the price of ink, it is actually cheaper for me to go to a proper print shop and get my printing done there – and not have the bother of maintaining a very expensive piece of machinery.
  • Dust – fibres from fabric will inevitably get into the mechanism of the printer – even though I am scrupulous about No Loose Threads.
  • Size / quality of print
  • Guaranteed colour-fastness of a fabric print (Some people recommend using Bubble Jest Set – I haven’t tried this (yet) as I find that simply boiling cotton fabric works sufficiently well for me.)

However, generally speaking, I would say that getting a fabric commercially printed is a costly and time-consuming business – and very often you are expected to buy yards and yards of the finished product too.

Given all this, I have been eyeing up Spoonflower (rather skeptically) for a while and wondering if I could justify the time involved in preparing some files to their specifications.

In the end I had an “If Not Now When?” moment and uploaded a large design which I had ready. (This had not been tweaked to fit any of Spoonflower’s recommendations – which was very unfair of me.)

And the result was ?

  • I uploaded the design on a Friday and paid for a proof to be sent to me. ($6 in total for one sample)
  • My 8 inch x 8 inch proof was posted to me on the following Monday. (20.3 x 20.3 cm)
  • The proof arrived the following Tuesday. (I am in the UK and Spoonflower is in the US.)
  • I sat and looked at it and thought – This is pretty amazing. There must be something wrong with it.

But there isn’t.

The sample was folded when it arrived – and neatly creased along the folds.

So I washed it.

Open House Miniatures - Spoonflower - Test Fabric washed

and ironed it on the reverse (I always iron printed fabrics on the reverse).

Open House Miniatures - Spoonflower Test Fabric - Ironed

I had asked for a sample in the cheapest  fabric available and this is very fine and smooth (and slightly transparent).

It is also looks unbleached and is very slightly creamy in colour, and this does affect the colour of the print.

(The fabric on the left and the paper print on the right – again, this is an unfair comparison as I can only print in CMYK and Spoonflower prints in RGB).

Open House MIniatures - Spoonflower Test Print - colour comparison

I would say that, on this fabric,  the print quality is excellent, with very minimal colour bleed.

(The ruler is showing millimeters).

Open House Miniatures - Spoonflower Test Print - minimal colour bleed

But what made me smile most was the one of the nicest compliment slips that I have seen for ages.

Open House Miniatures - Spoonflower fabric compliment slip

This fabric by Khandisha is here
http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/2077900

And the thing that made me laugh when I saw it…?

(You will need to take a look at my previous post to understand why.)

Open House Miniatures - How big is this

I really must see if I can get some American coins, mustn’t I?

***   ***   ***

In conclusion, am I planning to see if Spoonflower can handle some very small prints?

I am very tempted to, and if I do I will report back – with a sample book of the various materials available and a ruler !

***   ***   ***

If you would like to visit my Spoonflower page in the meantime, it is here –

http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/elizabethp

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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.

***   ***   ***   ***

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 !

***   ***   ***   ***

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)

and

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).

and

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.

http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/ra-magazine/spring-2013/houghton-hall-return-journey,471,RAMA.html

***   ***   ***   ***

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?”

***   ***   ***   ***

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.)

***   ***   ***   ***

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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I am about to abdicate responsibility again…

A little while ago I promised someone that I would demonstrate how to make a pop-up book “soon”.

“Soon” is taking me longer than I anticipated.

The week after next, however, I am planning to make some books.

The trouble is that there is more than one way to animate a book.

The ones that I made and photographed a while ago are not the simplest sort and, as an introduction to pop-ups, they may be a little off-putting.

Open House Miniatures - Theater Bildersbuch, single scene, Red Riding Hood

So I am going to be unfair and leave the choice up to you.

Shall I –

a) Do something simple – so that you can take the ideas away and use them to make something of your own (I will see what I can find by way of pictures)

b) Demonstrate one of my Theater Bilderbuch, with a pdf download for one of the following four scenes –

  • Little Red Riding Hood meeting the Wolf in the wood
  • Hansel and Gretel being chased by a (wonderfully irate) bear
  • The Adoration of the Magi – nativity scene
  • Christmas Eve – family scene

I am not going to say what I am going to vote for, only that I promise to be back to collect the results next Friday.

open_house_miniatures_poll_result_making_a_pop_up_book

If, like me, you are interested in theatres (and in books) and you would like to see an antique, full-size version of the Theater Builderbuch, there is one in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. It can be viewed on-line here

While I was checking that the above link was working, I came across an article regarding the conservation of another late Victorian book that gives a tantalising view of a different sort of pop-up mechanism.

victoria nad albert museum punch and bunny

This is the book after it had been restored.

The full (highly detailed)

A 5mm LD45 Plastazote polyethylene foam was chosen as soft, strong and inert. Three pieces were cut, bevelled and melted with a hot spatula on each edge to make them smoother, wrapped in Japanese paper and adhered with wheat starch paste between the upper board and back drop…

article is here.

(I loved reading the article, then I started to wonder – which Japanese paper did they use?)

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Open House Miniatures - Papier mache easter eggs with mould

These papier-mache Easter eggs are an “iceberg” thing to make – there is a great deal hidden below the surface of the metaphorical water.

I knew that the process that went into making these was not going to be easy to explain, so I made a short list to begin with.

It looked like this –

 

  1. Look at a full-size cardboard egg
  2. Make a miniature egg that is the “right shape” (Milliput)
  3. I need more than one egg!
  4. Cast more eggs from this shape (mould making and casting – Polycraft and Alumilite)
  5. Make bases for the cast eggs to sit on (mould making – Polycraft Hiflex)
  6. Make the papier-mache eggs on these moulds (papier-mache)

Then I began to think about all the things that I had not said, for example –

Please note –

  • All of the products that I used for mould making and casting can be substituted by others
  • The mould making processes and casting materials that I used for these eggs will not be suitable for everything
  • There are different sorts of mould making materials, which cure to different sorts of hardness and flexibility (shore)
  • If you are considering casting you must take into account what you want to cast and choose the mould / material to suit it
  • I approach CASTING as though it is a SCIENTIFIC PROCESS and I DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THE INSTRUCTIONS on the packet / bottle / tub

Then I started to consider all the things that I could not show easily in a photograph, for example,

  • I can’t make a poured silicone mould, or cast resin, and hold a camera at the same time.
  • I use the lowest odour casting materials that I can find, but I still think they stink and so I only use them out-of-doors – and at the moment we are knee-deep in (unseasonable) snow.
  • I was hoping that the weather would clear up, so that I could, at the very least, make some proper poured silicone bases for the eggs, but it hasn’t and I had to cheat.

Due to this, what follows is very far from perfect.

Background Information 

Casting –

If you are interested in casting things for yourself, you might find it helpful to look at the following videos from YouTube for background information.

The first video shows exactly what I do when I make a mould – I don’t skimp, I am utterly painstaking, it is a hypnotically dull process. It works.

The second video is in two parts, and is not so dull. This person knows what he’s doing but he does not mention fumes once!

I enjoyed his website http://www.stormthecastle.com 
http://youtu.be/CZ_qwuxUrjw

What I could not find on YouTube was a good example of casting a sphere.

Essentially, what you do is place the object in the centre of the mould and create feed lines – one for the casting material to enter the mould and another for air to escape from the mould.

Like this –

open_house_miniatures_papier_mache_easter_egg_mould

I made this half egg mould with Hiflex – not a good idea in my opinion, but the best I can do at the moment.

open_house_miniatures_papier_mache_easter_egg_mould_with_vents

In order to get resin into the egg shape,
I need to cut two channels.
1). to get the resin in and 2) to let the air out.
At this size it was easier for me to cut the channels, rather than embedding them when I was making the mould.

Printing on tissue paper –

I stick my tissue paper to a piece of photocopy paper with glue – a very little bit of glue all round the edge. It has to dry completely before it goes through my printer. I don’t use it all at once and it stores better this way.

A “professional” print from my print shop –

Open House Miniatures - Easter scrap prints

I have an arrangement with my local printers. I supply them with 600 ppi, colour-separated, tiff files and they print my images onto a paper of my choice, using their exceedingly expensive, ink-jet printer. I pay them money to do this and they don’t laugh at my small pages crammed full of odd things. In fact, we enjoy surprising each other.

They had a roll of their own 80 gsm HP plotter paper and they printed a strip of Easter scraps on to it for me. I was very pleased with the results and held my breath when I made the paper wet with glue – the ink did not run.

Papier-mache ?!?!?!

I had a quick look for an on-line definition of “papier-mache” and the recipes vary widely.

I think all that I can say is that I use the method and materials that work for me.

Finally –

The eggs that I make in the slideshow are slightly smaller than the ones that I photographed before.

I have longed to make smaller ones, but have been thwarted by a lack of the “right sort of” paper. (It is astonishing how thick and unwieldy “thin” paper gets at this size.)

The plotter paper has allowed me experiment and has, I think, has produced a superb result.

Many, many, many thanks again to Sharon for mentioning it.

Slideshow

Press the Esc key on your keyboard to escape from the slideshow at any time.

Finally, finally…

I am fairly certain that commercially made cardboard eggs were never made by this layered paper process !

For one thing, I have tried my layered paper method full-size and it works (with many, many more layers) but the drying time involved is ENDLESS…

If you are looking for full size eggs to decorate, they are still available from a few places – the quality and price varies.

I have found the following on-line suppliers, but I have not bought eggs from them in real-life.

Great Art UK

Crafty Bugs UK

Blumchen USA

32 Degrees North USA

Pr moebel GERMANY

Panduro Hobby GERMANY

32 Degrees North had some (full-size) decorated eggs too. I have not seen these in real-life for years and years and years.

I am very pleased that they are still made somewhere.

Happy Easter

OHM Happy Easter

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Petrina Case - than you card

Petrina won a set of The Prize Magazine.

She was then extraordinarily kind and sent me (by real life post !) a beautiful handmade card , and also some business cards for me.

They are all on lovely paper and I been trying, and failing, to do them justice in a photograph ever since.

The gold bands were on the inside of the envelope flap. It was a wonderful surprise to see a sudden golden gleam when I opened it.

I am going to save the envelope for making something special – I don’t know exactly what yet, but it will be something that needs beautiful gold paper.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that Petrina is picked as a Graphic45 Design Team Member for 2013.

***   ***   ***   ***

I would also like to thank Paula for making such a wonderful job of the folding dolls’ house and taking the trouble to photograph it so nicely for her blog.

I was truly delighted to see it in a real-life room. The little girls look as though they are enjoying themselves, don’t they !

Thank you as well to Krin, who took this wonderful photograph of the Circus Procession book.

Krin has two blogs (I struggle with one !!!) and in the blog devoted to 24th scale she has made a beautifully neat version of the folding dolls’ house, in 1/2 scale.

This is Krin’s idea and I have not tried to make the house at this size – I am firmly stuck in 12th scale ( or larger).

Krin has very kindly given details of the paper she used…

…so, in case there is anyone who would like to make a very small folding dolls’ house, and who would struggle adapting / converting / printing out and then scanning the 12th scale pdf…

… here are a couple of pdfs for 24th scale –

McLoughlin_Folding_Doll_House_24th_scale_OHM_130326

the coloured patches for the back of the floors

McLoughlin_Folding_Doll_House_24th_scale_OHM_130326-a

The instructions for making the 12th scale folding house are in the slideshow at the bottom of the post here

I hope you have fun – and I would be pleased to hear how you get on.

 

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