Posts Tagged ‘hand-painted’

12th scale dollhouse miniature christmas angels on a stand

These angels weren’t designed as a set.

I was trying to find a way to show that they were all slightly different.

It is a pity that the photograph (above) could be misleading because I like it much more than my usual effort (below).

12th scale swedish style dolls' house angel candlesticks

The angels were inspired by traditional Swedish Christmas ornaments. The design is mine and they are not a copy of an existing decoration. Each one is cut out, assembled and painted individually.

The angels holding a star are (from the bottom of the base to the top of the star) about 1 inch in height (2.5 cm)

The angels holding a candle are (from the bottom of the base to the top of the candle) about 1 and 1/4 inches in height  (3.2 cm)

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open_house_miniatures_ christmas_2015_dolls'_house_nativity_set_umpainted

This week I borrowed a Daylight Company D45000 4 Watt Foldi LED Portable Lamp and I have to say that it has exceeded my expectations.

It is compact, solidly weighted and stable. It give a very clear light – don’t look into it, you will hurt your eyes. It makes painting by artificial light possible (not good, but possible) and in the photographs that I have just taken the colours that I see on screen are very close to the colours that I see in real life.

The lamp is available from Amazon (UK) and when I looked it was on special offer, which makes it very, very tempting as far as I am concerned, although I need to see if it can help out with photos taken in daylight before making a final decision.

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The nativity scene in the photos is probably going to be my 2015 set. I am saying probably because the figures illustrated are fixed to the stand and I would prefer them to be free standing. They are glued down because they are very small and light, especially the baby Jesus who goes missing despite all my efforts to keep him safe.


Varnished wooden base (gloss varnish)

Hand-painted resin / plastic figures and star. These are finished with a very tiny amount of gold, sealed and given several thin coats of matt / satin varnish so that they have a slight sheen, but are not too shiny.


The stand is -1″ wide (approx 2.5cm) x  just over 1″ tall (approx 2.75cm)

The tallest figure (Joseph) is 2cm – roughly 3/4 of an inch

As the stands are handmade and the figures are hand-painted, they are all slightly different.

UPDATE: 24th November 2015

open_house_miniatures_ christmas_2015_dolls'_house_nativity_set_daylight

As far as I am concerned, daylight is still best.

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How Big…?

Open House Miniatures - screen detail and 10p coin

10p coin.

One of the comments on the post before this one started a train of thought that ended, a great deal earlier this morning, in these photographs.

Open House Miniatures - screen detail and 10p coin

1p coin.

I look in bemusement at photographs from around the world, where my only size reference is an unknown coin.

Does the same thing happen to you?

If it does, this may help – for the UK at least.

Open House Miniatures - UK coins

The 10p coin
(far right)
is very slightly smaller than
1 inch
(2.5 cm)
in diameter

Open House Miniatures - UK coins

I think that, if you are not familiar with the UK currency,  in addition to the variety of sizes and shapes, it may sometimes difficult to identify a coin because the front and reverse of the same denomination can vary.

Open House Miniatures - 5p and 1p coins showing variations

This is one of the reasons why I continue to use a ruler – even though many people have told me how much they dislike it.

Open House Miniatures - screen detail and ruler

“…horrible, everyday, metallic, nasty, mundane-ness…” is possibly my favourite quote to date.

[Please do not take this as encouragement to send me more, even more descriptive, quotes !]

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Open House Miniatures - detail of painted dolls house firescreen

Here I am about to be depressing again as I am (reluctantly) coming to the conclusion that “on-line” is not a good place for the majority of things that I make.


Well, in order for something to exist here,  I have to photograph it.

And in order to photograph something I have to wait for a day when the light levels are “right”.

This is not too bad for repeatable items, but for things that I cannot repeat exactly, it is a distinct problem.

What do I mean by “repeatable” and “not-repeatable”?

A good example of “repeatable” would be this year’s nativity set.

It is going to be printed and so when they are finished all the nativities are all going to look very nearly identical.

This means that once I have managed to photograph one nativity, the photographs can be used for every nativity set,

Open House Miniatures - Notebook - Nativity Scene 2013

This is an old photo.
I started working on the nativity at Easter.

“Not-repeatable” on the other hand, would be something like the fire screens that I made last week.

Here they are, waiting to be wrapped for posting.


It was not particularly sunny this morning, but my camera is still picking up far too much reflected light and the detail is burned out.

I can cut down on the reflected glare by using a different background.

Open House Miniatures - miniature firescreens

and by using pieces of off-white paper to soften some of the light.

Open House Miniatures - dolls house firescreens

but I can’t honestly say that I am happy with the result.

Open House Miniature - doll house firescreens

And because I cannot reproduce a painted item exactly, I have to photograph every piece individually and this, in our uncertain climate, can be a very frustrating and time-consuming business.

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The photographs on this blog post are watermarked to protect their integrity and reproduced with the permission of the new owner.

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The design on the bluer screen is based on a painting by Renoir.

The basket of flowers on the greener screen is my own design.

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Open House Miniatures - handpainted screen, birds and foliage

I have been working on a painted screen this week.

It is quite a sophisticated and complicated design, and has a greater range of colours than I normally consider using in something of this size.

It made me remember conversations that I have had in the past, when I have been asked to scan something so that copies can be made more quickly (and cheaply).

Below is an example that shows why I have always said, “no”.

Open House Miniatures - scan of screen

They really are the same screen  – only the bright light of the scanner has burnt out subtle details and flattened the colours.

The image is also blurred – this is mainly the fault of my scanner, which can just about cope with black and white documents; but the upload process to WordPress (when an image gets “crunched”) did not help !

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I have a mirror of which I am very fond.

Original Mirror Detail

It is straight-out-of-the-paint-box vermillion in colour and decorated with Chinese figures and scenery. I bought it some years ago, together with a hairbrush, from a charity shop in Kent.

It is so straight-out-of-the-paint-box vermillion in colour, that I have not yet found a wall where it would be at home. This being so, when I wanted to make a miniature version of it, I changed the background colour to black and the undercoat, that shows through in places, to cadmium red.

My miniature version is constructed using a handbag mirror, which has safety glass, securely housed in a plastic frame.

The handmade frame is then painted and varnished several times to give the soft sheen effect of old lacquer.

It is relatively heavy and so I have added a hanging wire at the back. This can be snipped away, or twisted out of sight if it is not needed.

I have a pattern for the frame and sketches for the design, but each of these mirrors turns out differently.

They are also dependant upon good light for painting, and a supply of handbag mirrors – neither of which can be guarenteed.



3 and 1/2 inches tall – (8.9cm)

2 and just over6/16th wide – (6.1cm)

Just under ¼ inch deep – (7mm)



I have no idea where, or when, my original mirror was made – it has no identifying marks that I can find.



These miniature mirrors are made from REAL GLASS. They are not  “toys” – they are a “collector’s items”

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I gave myself a treat yesterday afternoon, and finished painting one of my favourite screen designs.

Open House Miniatures - dolls' house screen, with birds and flowers

The panels are asymmetrical and the main space can be filled in a variety of ways. I chose to put birds and flowers in this one.

The screen is made of card, which, at this size/thickness, is tougher than most types of wood – thin sheets of wood can split along the grain far too easily for my liking.

Being made of card, it can also be hinged without using metal hinges – very tiny metal hinges being one of the things with which I have not (yet) had much success.

I can never get them to work satisfactorily: they either bend while I am fixing them in place, or wobble about when they are in place – possibly, I have not yet found the right sort of hinges!

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Next week Project Garden Wall is about to start in earnest and I have been delegated to help mix concrete and mortar.

I am looking forward to doing something full-size (for a change !) but, as I am not going to be in any state to go to the post office, this will mean closing my Etsy shop for a week.

I am curious to find out what life will be like without having the shop presence hovering in the background.

I don’t dash to check if anything has sold every 15 minutes, which I was inclined to do when I first opened it in June of last year; but I am very aware that it is there, day and night, 24/7, and this does make me feel as though I am “at work” all the time.

Blogging is the same. I can’t honestly say that this has, so far, been more that a way of recording what I have been working on – and I won’t pretend that I don’t begrudge the time and effort that goes in to trying to photograph things so that they look like they do in real life, or at least as near to “in real life” as represented on my screen and generated by my computer.

It is going to be interesting to see if I miss Etsy, or if I really would be more comfortable sliding quietly back in to the “real” world.

Final decision time is June this year, so I had better make the most of this opportunity to see how it feels to be “private” again.

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Open House Miniatures - dolls' house painted wall clock - c. 1830

This painted wall clock is made from wood and card.

It has a printed dial and does not have a working movement.

The dial and the decorative cut-out are protected by acetate.

The decoration is hand painted and this one has faded roses, intermixed with gilded decoration.

I have made a pattern for the clock, but as the decoration is all done by hand, no two clocks ever look exactly the same.

And – as I only paint in “good” daylight – I don’t make these as often as I would like to.



1 and 3/4 inches long

1 and 1/16th inches wide

1/4  inches deep (at clock face)

approx ( 4.5 cm x 3.8cm x .5cm )



I saw the original of this clock in an auction some years ago.

It was catalogued as being English (circa 1830), made of papier-mache and by an unknown maker.

It was LARGE  – 30 inches long by 19 inches wide  and 5 inches deep – and sold for a eye-opening sum of money.

My version is therefore smaller than 12th scale – and a little more affordable.


Please Note – this miniature clock is not a “Toy”. It is a “Collector’s Item”

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A Folding Fire Screen

We had rain and snow and howling wind this afternoon.

One of these days I am going to get an afternoon of steady, boring sunshine – one day …

Open House Miniatures - Dolls' House Fire Screen

This fire screen is constructed from acid free card, and it is fully hinged so that it can be adjusted to fit a variety of fireplaces.

The picture is painted on fine watercolour paper, which has been fixed to the card. A shallow frame has then been added, and the whole had been finished with a coat of satin varnish.



2 inches tall – bottom to top of arch – (5cm)

Middle section – 1 and 7/16th inches wide – (3.1cm)

Each side section –  9/16th of an inch wide – (1.4cm)



Fire screens of this type were usually used to disguise an empty grate, or to hide an un-lit fire.

The picture on this screen is painted in a style that would not have been out of place in a late Regency or early Victorian setting.



This miniature fire screen is not a “toy” – it is a “collector’s item”

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A Chinese Screen

Open House Miniatures - dolls' house screen

I greatly admire the way in which masters of Chinese and Japanese lacquerware achieve beautiful, intricate decoration with a few colours.

My attempts to produce similar effects always leave me unsatisfied with the result – but at least this means that I have an incentive to keep on trying !

I haven’t photographed any of my efforts before and was surprised at how reflective the black background was – even the subdued gloss on the front of this screen picked up all sorts of reflections that I had not noticed.

This made me wonder how much my eye and brain “edit out” – as the reflections must have been there (or the camera could not have photographed them) although I did not “see” them.

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