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09 December 2011

Give Away Competition - Baby Georgie

Baby Georgie sat here waiting for someone to give him a home and a cuddle, and that’s where you come in, this in my new ‘Give Away.’ Georgie is handmade by me in 1/12th scale porcelain, he is wearing a little nappy with a blue silk ribbon, and has a cute little curl on the top of his head.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning him is leave comments on this blog and become a follower, I haven’t decided how long I will keep the competition open yet, approximately a month or a little bit longer.  The winner will be announced and I will then make arrangements to send him to his new home.
Georgie getting ready for a nap.
                                                    Happy Blogging and Happy Christmas.

Surroundings not included.

08 December 2011

Father Christmas

Father Christmas is the name used in many English-speaking countries for a figure associated with Christmas. A similar figure with the same name (in other languages) exists in several other countries, including France  Pere Noel ,Spain  Papá Noel, Pare Noel), Portugal Pai Natal), Italy(Babbo Natale), Amenia (Kaghand Papik), Andorra(Lord Quinto).

In past centuries, the English Father Christmas was also known as Old Father Christmas, and is said to wear in Victorian and Tudor times a bright green suit a sign of the returning spring. Father Christmas was originally part of an old English  midwinter festival.

In medieval England and for centuries afterwards, the figure of Father Christmas represented the spirit of benevolence and good cheer. In the 19th century, his role changed to something more like that of the European Saint Nicholas. At about the same time, Dutch emigrants took the story of a legendary gift-bringer called 'Sinterklaas' to America, where he eventually became known as Santa Claus.
The names may be different, but there were enough similarities between all these symbolic personages to allow, by the early 20th century, Father Christmas, Santa, St Nick and others to merge.

And the resulting 'right jolly old elf' is now the universally recognised symbol of Christmas and the bringer of above gifts via reindeers and sleigh .

23 November 2011

War Time Britain

1941 The war in Europe continued to dominate world affairs, for most children, the war years were a time of anxiety, family separation and for some, it was a time of profound personal loss.
Gas Masks
Gas had been used a great deal in the First World War and many soldiers had died or been injured in gas attacks. Mustard gas was the most deadly of all the poisonous chemicals used during World War I. It was so powerful that only small amounts needed to be added to weapons like high explosive shells to have devastating effects. There was a fear that it would be used against ordinary people at home in Britain (civilians). By September 1939 some 38 million gas masks in cardboard boxes, had been given out, house to house, to protect against gas bombs.
In most countries women worked in war factories to make war materials. 75,00 women joined the Land Army in Britain to help grow more food.  In 1941 women between the age of 19-30 had to register for war work . Women who joined the forces were mostly secretaries, drivers, cooks and mechanics. Lots of them also joined the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (W.R.V.S.). They provided meals and clothing etc. for survivors and rescue workers. 
The war had much effect on fashion as clothes were in short supply and rationed. The government encouraged people to 'Make do and mend'. Older clothes were transformed into modern styles.
I know several of you are doing mid 20th century houses or projects.  Come and see my new dolls at the York Miniature Fair - Sunday 27th November 2011, see here for details.

'Operation Pied Piper'was a huge undertaking. In London alone there were 1,589 assembly points for children to gather at before they were moved on. Those children who were evacuated were given a stamped postcard to send from their billet address to inform their parents where they were.  ‘Operation Pied Piper’ planned to move 3.5 million children in three days. In the event, 1.9 million were actually evacuated, this was a remarkable achievement, some children stayed with their parents as evacuation was not compulsory, what a choice. Living here in Devon there are many families who took in evacuees, they still meet up from time to time, its very interesting listening to them.

29 October 2011

Westpoint Miniature Fair

Westpoint arena at Exeter - 30/10/2011 is the date for the next miniature fair I shall be attending, see here for details. I shall meeting some of my customers to deliver some commissions which I have been working on, hope they like them.

This venue is spacious with good facilities for parking and feels almost to be on our doorstep, especially after last weekend when we travelled to London to do Ali Pali, that was a long day, but enjoyable.


18 October 2011

Alexandra Palace

October 23rd is the second fair at this venue, of recent years, organised by -  I understand there are even more exhibitors than last time, selling top quality handmade miniatures.  There is also going to be demonstrations by some experts.

I haven't got time to blog much today, as I have to work hard for Sunday's fair.  Fenella will be joining me, amongst other dolls, holding her masquerade mask.

Hope to see some of you there.

10 October 2011

Hot off the press!

Brilliant day yesterday at the Lyndhurst fair, very busy with lots of chatter, its very interesting listening about people’s miniature projects. I worked all day Saturday trying to finish this little girl and just managed it by tea time.

Five past ten at the fair and she had a new owner, hot off the press. She was a very pretty and sweet sleeping doll, the customer informed me that she was going to a good home, infact, it was her very new dolls house, which she had purchased just after the April Lyndhurst fair in order to home some of the dolls she had bought from me then, I asked her how many houses did she have, “22”, she whispered - that’s dedication.

03 October 2011

Lyndhurst Miniature Fair

Lyndhurst Park Hotel (SO43 7NL) is where I will be next exhibiting, this miniature fair is being held on the 9th October 2011. This is a very busy collectors fair with a great atmosphere - plenty to see.

I will be exhibiting some of my new dolls, Melissa from the Georgian period, being one them. (Cant believe we are into October already - busy fair diary ahead).

07 September 2011

Miniature English Culture

The high waisted graceful styles of early 19th century are known as the Empire style. The Empire dress which evolved in the late 1790s began as a chemise shift. Typically the bodice was fitted under the bust line with the skirt flowing gently to about ankle length, Cicely’s skirt is made from silk, but often muslin would be used as this fabric was less costly than silk and was easier to maintain.
Cicely’s neckline is low, with the bodice back short and plain, however, is finished off by the capped sleeves which sometimes  restricted movement.
Throughout the Regency Era lightweight shawls were often worn to accessorise the outfit, especially when a little extra warmth was required.
The look is completed with the low heeled pump, embellished with a delicate silk rose. This type of shoe was made of soft kid, cloth or silk and was very flimsy, and so wore out easily. They were basically little more than ballet slippers.

Cicely looks as though she has just stepped out of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility or Emma, she would be most apt in a social gathering from this era.


03 September 2011


There is going to be a good Doll's House and Miniature Fair at Stafford on the 11 September 2011 - see HERE for details.

I shall be exhibiting a selection of handmade porcelain dolls in both kits and period costume, if any of you are in need of hard to find haberdashery for your miniature projects or would like to have a go at dressing your own doll, come along and see us  - stand number 82.

Here are a few of my new ladies, typical Edwardian nursemaid dressed in the uniform befitting her station and the lady of the house with her daughter.

Tasks of the day for the nursemaid would have been assisting the nanny in taking care of the children of the employer's family. Her duties included tidying and maintaining the nursery. Young girls would work under the supervision of the experienced and sometimes older nanny.  Only the wealthy households, or moderately well-off ones with many children, would employ multiple staff in the nursery.

Everything that a parent ordinarily might do, especially the more onerous tasks, could be turned over to a nursemaid.  Feeding very young children and supervising somewhat older children at mealtime, whilst playing and seeing that they were dressed properly, and other such tasks could be left to a nursemaid while the lady of the house concerned herself with other affairs, such as furthering her husband's career.

Due to this close involvement with her charges a close relationship would often be established, similar to that a mother would herself ordinarily form. In cases where the lady of the household has died, a nursemaid might become even more fully a surrogate mother.


20 August 2011

My Proud Moment

I digress a little from miniatures, however, keeping with the subject of costume I cant resist sharing with you a little part of my special day when my son graduated at the
University College Plymouth St Mark & St John - founded 1840 - with a BA Hons degree in Sports Development. This is when you see your hard work of support and encouragement come to fruition and hopefully paves the way to a more successful future for your child.

The graduation ceremony was very special, a much smaller scale than we had experienced with our elder son, who graduated from Southampton with a degree in Bachelor of Law with Business Management.

Once we had arrived at the University we collected the Academic Dress - this is where my camera started to work over time, I kept hearing stop it Mum, but he soon got used to it.

Academic dress is a traditional form of clothing for academic settings, primarily tertiary education, worn mainly by those that have been admitted to a university degree (or similar) or hold a status that entitles them to assume them (e.g., undergraduate students at certain old universities).

Contemporarily, it is commonly seen only at graduation ceremonies, but formerly academic dress was, and to a lesser degree in many ancient universities still is, worn on a daily basis. Today the ensembles are distinctive in some way to each institution, UCP St Mark & St John’s identity is the purple design which you can see in the photos. Academic dress is also worn by members of certain learned societies and institutions as official dress.

Collection of UCP Hoods

Yahooooo! We've done it

There are 3 main components - Gown or Robe, Hood and a Mortarboard, a little history on these being:-

Gown  (medieval Latin gunna) is a (usually) loose outer garment from knee- to full-length worn by men and women in Europe from the early Middle Ages to the seventeenth century (and continuing today in certain professions); later, gown was applied to any woman's garment consisting of a bodice and attached skirt.

The gowns worn today by academics, judges and some clergy derive directly from the everyday garments worn by their medieval predecessors.

A hood is a component of academic dress that is an often bright and decorative garment worn over a gown and used only at graduations or on other special occasions. The shape of hoods of universities and colleges in the UK and in many Commonwealth countries have been derived from those prescribed at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Cap variation
The square academic cap, often called a mortarboard (1) (because of its similarity in appearance to the hawk used by bricklayers to hold mortar (2) or Oxford cap, is an item of academic head dress consisting of a horizontal square board fixed upon a skull-cap, with a tassel attached to the centre. In the UK and the US, it is commonly referred to informally in conjunction with an academic gown worn as a cap and gown. The cap, together with the gown and (sometimes) a hood, now form the customary uniform of a university graduate, in many parts of the world, following a British model.

Many university graduation ceremonies in the United Kingdom begin with a procession of academics, (faculty) wearing the formal regalia. This procession is accompanied by music, and a ceremonial mace is often carried. The ceremonial mace is a highly ornamented staff of metal or wood - tradionally, carried before a high official in civic ceremonies by a mace-bearer, intended to represent the official's authority. The mace, as used today, derives from the original mace used as a weapon. Processions often feature maces, as on parliamentary or formal academic occasions.

Mace Bearer

After this, an official reads out the names of the graduates one by one, organized by class of degree or by subject. When their names are called, the graduates walks across the stage to shake hands with a senior official, this is where I wanted to absorb every proud second, but at the same time catch it all on film.
Certificate awarded
O no!, they caught me
Nearest I'll get to wearing the academic cap

We finished with a lovely lunch which finished the day off nicely.

01 August 2011

Beauty & Restriction in Miniature form

Here is my latest completed doll. Lots of you have been asking about more ladies dressing - so meet Harriet. Late Victorian to Edwardian, you will see her dressing for dinner, the afternoon Tea gown has been discarded to enable her to go through the ritual of adding all the necessary layers you would expect of an Edwardian hostess.

She adorns black stockings under her fashionable leather high heeled shoes. The miniature drawers are made from silk as is the chemise and the petticoat the doll is holding - all finished off with vintage lace. The corset has been laced up the back and has accomplished the task of enhancing the hour glass silhouette of the period. Luxurious silk, lace and glass stone detail up the front of the corset creates the desired sexual appeal of full curves and ample bosom, the ¢ S¢ shape, all in all the lingerie lends itself to an appropriate foundation for the outer garments, especially the skirts which will swish and rustle as she walks .

Harriet’s evening gloves are completed with her bracelet which matches her necklace.

Being a slave to the restrictions of corsetry was a matter of course for these ladies, I am so grateful to the evolution of fashion and customs. It would be interesting to get dressed up in some of the costumes I have created for my dolls, however, can you imagine being sat after dinner with the confines of many garments, wishing you had had the sense not to have finished that chocolate desert, perhaps wisdom was gained through experience.

The doll will shortly appear on my website for those of you who are interested.

So exhausting, this dressing -(sorry, this photo isn't very sharp).

17 July 2011

A little courtesy

I am sat here at my desk on a rainy Saturday morning, concentrating hard on designing this
minute doll’s necklace, when my attention is drawn to a people carrier outside my house which is kind of off the road and on my driveway. I watch with interest the faffing around - people getting in and out of the car, coats on, bags picked up, they keep looking up at my house, I’m thinking should I know them, are they relatives of my husband’s who we haven’t seen for ages?

Eventually they all get back in the car and proceed to drive up into my yard? O, they must be those relatives, I had better go outside and investigate, as no one is knocking on the door.

I walk upto them, they are oblivious to me, so I say ‘ excuse me’ to which I receive a full on Italian ( I think) explanation, I quickly say ‘ I don’t understand a word you are saying’ - talk about blood pressure. I then explain this is private property and they cannot park here, to which I keep hearing, ‘ its not possible’ , at this point they are all trying the odd word of English.  Eventually, I am shown a very flat tyre, ( I hope they haven’t driven very far with that, cos, as though I am no expert, I think this it would have caused serious damage ).

Ok, so I can see their problem, and understand it would be difficult to change a tyre on a roadside, I smile at them and say ‘no problem’ and go back inside.   I watch as one of the vehicle’s occupants is stood on the road side looking like he is about to stop the traffic?   Next time I look there are 2 other cars trying to inch into my drive, I think they whole extensive family are here.

The tyre is changed and they all drive off in the heavy July rain, I think to myself, I would like to think if that had been me I would have exercised a little common courtesy by knocking on the door to try and explain the problem, LOL - back to the necklace.