Posts Tagged ‘dolls’ house miniatures’

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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These date from a time when I was trying to fit many Christmas decorations into a very small space.


  • Glue two sheets of thin card (140gsm each) together
  • Glue the paper pattern (photocopy paper, probably 80gsm) to the card
  • Place under a flat,heavy weight and allow to dry completely before cutting out
  • Cut out slot first
  • Then cut out tree (cut away from the inner corners towards the outer edge)
  • The raised surface at the cut edge may be removed by burnishing with the back of a metal tea spoon
  • Test fit and make adjustments

Decorating is a matter of choice. I did all of the following:

  • Paint
  • Allow to dry completely
  • Glitter (this is the fun but messy bit)
  • Allow to dry completely

I ran out of time, daylight and ideas when it came to photographing the finished trees, which is a pity because I like them and think that they cast pretty shadows.




I don’t know what size the above pattern will be when viewed / printed on another computer / printer, but the trees in the pdf below should print at 1 inch (2.5 cm) tall, which is the size of the examples I made.



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This is a Paper Palace to Cut Out and Color - Evaline Ness

This is a Paper Palace to Cut Out and Color
Designed by Evaline Ness
ISBN 0-684-14708-4

My mother gave this book to me way back in the mid 1970s.

She had come across it in a cut-price bookshop that used to be on the Kilburn High Road (in London).

Shops like these are the last chance for a book that has been remaindered.

If a book doesn’t sell there it is pulped, and I have always been glad and grateful that this one, at least, was rescued.

I have never taken the book apart in order to turn it into a 3d palace, but I have decorated (and re-decorated) again and again in my imagination.

One of the things that I find particularly pleasing about it is the way the shape of two of the rooms is changed by the triangular supports.

This is a Paper Palace to Cut Out and Color - Evaline Ness - back cover

Then there is the way that it is possible to allow furniture to spill out of the rooms, not to mention the way that the owner of the palace is encouraged to use their imagination – and plenty of gold !

This is a Paper Palace - Evaline Ness

Whenever I need to make something fine and golden for a dolls’ house, this is one of the first places that I visit for inspiration.


The book is still in copyright, so I can’t share it it great detail here –

This is a Paper Palace - Evaline Ness



– but if you are inspired to make a Paper Palace of your own, and would like some furniture to go in it, I would suggest having a look at the digital copy of The Girl’s Own Toy-Maker that is available from Google books.

It has some rather nice furniture patterns (as well as suggestions for a couple of small houses and other paper toys) that can be made from paper / card and I think that all of the designs could be worked up into something more substantial – with a little bit of work.

Here are a few of the simpler items –

The Girl's Own Toymaker - Dolls' HouseChair

The Girl's Own Toymaker - Dolls' House Chair with Arms

The Girl's Own Toymaker - Dolls' House Table

The Girl's Own Toymaker - Dolls' House Fireplace

The Girl's Own Toymaker - Dolls' House Washstand

I was delighted to discover that there is a companion volume for boys too –

The Boy’s Own Toy-Maker

The Boy's Own Toy-Maker - soldiers marching out of a fort

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kathleen Holmes' Doll House - Front Door

Kathleen’s house was recently featured in Miniaturas Magazine.

Kathleen Holmes Dollhouse in Miniaturas Magazine

I was very cheeky and asked her if she would mind sharing her photographs with a wider audience, and she has been very generous and agreed.

I planned to select twelve of her photographs as my “favourites” (Just twelve photographs? I couldn’t stop at just twelve!) and have been debating what I could say about them.

I finally concluded that what I really feel about the entire house is that it is:

Lived-in, Looked-after and Loved.

I could go on about the deft touches that please me – the tiny white bobbles on the nursery curtains, the casual, exactly right, arrangement on the attic windowsill, the leaves in the wheel barrow, the watering can (ready for emergencies?) in the photograph for the 4th of July celebrations… but the list would just keep growing longer and longer because I keep seeing new things to enjoy and marvel at.

So, enough words.

I hope that you will enjoy looking at Kathleen’s photographs as much as I do, and will  join me in thanking her for sharing her wonderful miniature home.

***   ***   ***   ***

Kathleen adds photographs to Facebook on a regular basis – https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.holmes.12

She is working on a new home at the moment.

I can’t wait for her to move in.
Kathleen Holmes Dollhouse

***   ***   ***   ***

I cannot possibly name all the makers whose work is featured in Kathleen’s home, so it was a question of mention some, or none at all.

The food is principally made by –

Robin Brady-Boxwell of Crown Jewel Miniatureshttp://www.crownjewelminiatures.com/

Amanda Speakmanhttp://www.amanspeakminiatures.com/

Kim Marshall Saulterhttp://kimsminiatures.blogspot.co.uk/

The dog and the cat were made by *reve*.

*reve* has no items for sale at the time of typing this, but his / her eBay profile page is here – http://myworld.ebay.com/*reve*/

I apologise to the many people that I am overlooking by mentioning these very, very few.

***   ***   ***

Update 10th October 2018 – There are some short films on Youtube that give a wonderful tour of Kathleen’s house.

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This week we have had rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog – so I haven’t been able to do all the things I was planning to do.

It did, however, mean that I had a chance to start rearranging my bookcase.

I need to do this because, although I had made a solemn promise to myself not to buy any more books, I was tempted beyond endurance by a copy of The Carole and Barry Kaye Museum of Miniatures Catalogue.

It is not very large – 10 inches by 8 1/2 inches and 110 pages – and it is absolutely full of colour photographs of dolls’ houses, miniature scenes and accessories collected by Carole Kaye.

I was fascinated by the American scenes and decor and there were makers who were completely new to me – the work of Rainbow Hand being a wonderful new discovery.

There were also some very beautifully dressed and modelled dolls by George Stuart, which I had never seen before. However, I made the mistake of reading the short paragraph about his Charles II (which is quite stunning to look at) and became intensely annoyed…

Charles II was not “the second in the line of Stuart Kings” – he was the third – James I of England (and 6th of Scotland), Charles I, Cromwell (not a king at all), Charles II – and what is wrong with paying your debts? and the king did not personally plunge the United Kingdom into endless wars – as seems to be implied –

and –

…and then I calmed down a bit

…and remembered that History is Written by The Winners

…and a great deal depends on which books you have read

…and what you have been told

So, no more words, but some pictures – which are far more interesting!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am told that only part of the Carole and Barry Kaye collection is featured in this catalogue and sadly the Museum is now closed, so I will  never see it in-situ and in its full glory.

The collection has apparently been donated to The Naples Museum of Art and Philharmonic Center for the Arts where some of it (at least) is now on display as part of the museum’s permanent collection – although I have not been able to find any details about it on their website.

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