Thursday, 26 May 2022

Restoration or Renovation?

This 1920s Lines Bros DH/D dolls house had been sitting on the floor by my desk for quite some time. Inside it had four rooms instead of  two, with no original interior decor, roofing, etc. To be honest, I had been left pondering on what to do, as one of my little granddaughters was drawn to it each time she came to visit. So I restore and sell as a collector's item, or do I renovate and let my granddaughter have it?

Now,  I'm usually all for restoration and preservation with regards to these old treasures, rather than renovation. But on weighing up the fact that this had already been greatly devalued due to its loss of original features and the changes in construction, I felt on this occasion it was ok to make an exception. Plus it was coming up to my granddaughter's 3rd birthday,  so yep...I chose the renovation route, and it was to be for her. 

Although the original roofing paper was long gone, having been replaced by some unusual thick embossed tile covering...I didn't dislike it and it had been done nicely, so decided to keep it.

The original metal windows were there but as often the case, had been considerably overpainted, were bent in places and badly encased with flimsy plastic glazing. My original intention had been to remove the metal windows for safety purposes and create simple wooden ones, but once all the internal mess had been removed and the windows cleaned down, it was quite an easy job using pliers to bend struts back into shape and paint in bright yellow enamel paint. (Yep, I know some of you out there will be horrified that I painted them yellow, but then I was doing this for a 3 year old). I then glazed each window with 2mm thick perspex that was cut to fit using craft knife, metal ruler and brute force! The new glazing was kept in place with fresh internal beading and painted cream. 

The black gabled front and burgundy edging were all painted white. Just with these few simple steps, the whole of the exterior already felt bright and cheery, suitable for a 3 year old. The original textured exterior I left untouched, as it had clearly recently been overpainted in white, and was in good condition. 

The back still had old brick paper, and although a little tatty, it was not too bad so I decided to leave it, as a nod to its past.

The front door no longer had its original green paint,  but thankfully the Lines Bros. metal letter box plus lion door knocker were still there. However the door frame had clearly been replaced for some reason, and had been unevenly cut down the left side, but it all adds to the quirkiness of the house and just makes me smile.  

Daughter-in-law requested a bright fuchsia pink colour for the front door, which I admit I was a little dubious about. And unsurprisingly, I could not find that colour in enamel paint, so had to use an acrylic paint, then seal with three coats of diluted PVA glue to give it a hard glossy finish. But you know, even though I admit on having reservations on this colour initially, I actually love it now!

All the modern papers were ripped out, right down to the bare wood, so I could start decorating from scratch. Luckily the ceilings appeared to have recently been painted white, so I didn't have to touch them. The back of the frontage was tidied up with an off white emulsion paint and interior doors painted in white enamel. 

The bedroom was given a pretty modern patterned dolls house wallpaper, a big bold patterned craft paper floor, plus one of my old imitation 1930s paper friezes that I used to create.

The bathroom was given white emulsion walls and a blue patterned craft paper flooring.  A pair of vintage lace curtains were set in place by using tiny metal eye hooks and picture string. 

The lounge floor was covered with a remnant of antique pink wallpaper ( I literally had one small rectangle of this left and it is so pretty). The two side walls were given a pink acrylic painted finish and the back wall covered in a heavily pink pattered craft paper.  

The kitchen walls were painted all over in a pale yellow acrylic, the flooring was craft paper and the paper frieze was another replica I used to create, based on a 1920s design. 

All acrylic painted walls and craft papers were sealed with two coats of diluted PVA glue at the end, to make them more hard wearing. Two sets of fabric curtains were handmade with the tiniest stitches that I could muster, and fixed into place via metal eyelets and picture framing string. 

The base was freshened up with two coats of dark green enamel paint.  Finally, I created a simple name plaque out of a small offcut of wood and acrylic paint, sealed with PVA glue, then fixed to the front. Job done!

And there we are...needless to say, when my granddaughter was presented with this on her third birthday, complete with a few carefully chosen pieces of vintage furniture, she was rather thrilled.  It is currently home to her Sylvanian Kangaroo family. This century old treasure may look a little different to how it started way back in the 1920s, but in this latest chapter of its long life, it is now back to being used for its original purpose...a plaything for a little person. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

A Parade Of Little Fireplaces

Oh my it really THAT long since I last posted on here, huge apologies! I have been here at KT Miniatures..honest (well most of the time), but life just lately has been non stop, plus there have been some little distractions too (ie. grandchildren and extra Grandma duties).  Many  gorgeous  treasures have come and gone off the website these past few weeks, and at times business has been brisk, but I have not been able to find the time to feature them on here.

Well today I decided I must make time for this blog, and this morning I have listed several fireplaces and related items to KT Miniatures website. They vary in age, scale, design and of course...price. 

Unknown Antique Wooden Fireplace

This unvarnished wooden fireplace is intriguing. I feel it is very old but I know nothing of its origin or maker. Judging by the style I suspect this was made during the inter-wars era, and probably homemade. 

Curiously there is a tiny letter F written in pencil in the hearth, so I suspect there was some kind of fire fret or grate over the top of this writing, but now it is long gone. It would not be too difficult to create a simple fire fret out of card. 

Two c1930s Tiny Toy Fireplaces

This mottled painted fireplace is instantly recognisable as a Tiny Toy fireplace, made in the 1930s. Various Tiny Toy furniture came in this speckled painted finish. 

The style of this fireplace is very 1930s in style. There is a simple painted wooden grate and fire insert plus a fixed hearth. 

Here is another Tiny Toy fireplace, and although it is the same shape as the other fireplace,  as you can see it has a very different finish. 

This comes in a varnished wooden finish, with decorative green painted strips around the surround. The wooden grate is very similar to the one seen in the mottled fireplace. This too has a very 1930s and Art Deco feel to it. 

All three fireplaces above are suitable for a 1/16th scale dolls house or old dolls house where scale does not matter. 

Unusual Vintage Wooden Fireplace

Here is a larger and quite substantial wooden fireplace, and quite unusual in style. Exact age or maker is unknown.  However there is what looks to be a possible price of 6/11 written in pencil on the back, which suggests that this could be from the pre-decimalisation era (1971) and that it was probably made commercially. 

The mantelpiece is unusually shaped and edged in wood effect wallpaper. Some lighter wallpaper is found along the top and around the lower central area of the fire surround. The hearth is covered in vintage brick paper which has been heavily varnished. 

At 4" high, this should be suitable for a 1/12th scale dolls house, and  possibly even a slightly larger scale dolls house too. 

Two early 1950s Dol-Toi Fireplaces

This green painted wooden fireplace (seen above) is by Dol-Toi and the pink painted wooden fireplace (seen below) also by Dol-Toi,  are so pretty and simply ooze nostalgia! The green fireplace is in a good played with condition. 

The pink fireplace is showing a little wear on the paintwork (there is a weeny bit of paper missing from the left side border of the printed lit fire paper image) but nothing too detrimental. 

Both these fireplaces date from the early 1950s and are suitable for a 1/16th scale dolls house. 

c1950s Yellow Painted Barton Fireplace

I really like this simple wooden fireplace by Barton, it reminds me of my childhood lounge fireplace. This particular model dates from the 1950s. 

This has been given a tiled effect finish by scored symmetrical lines, so very typical of the 1950s style fireplaces found in the UK houses at that time. In fact the tiled fireplaces were even found in the 1930s too. 
The Barton fireplace is in 1/16th scale. 

My childhood house that I grew up in was a 1930s house with a grey tiled fireplace in our lounge.  I remember watching the fire being cleaned out every morning (apart from in the summer), then the fire would be set with screwed up newspaper placed on top of the grate, kindling wood would be placed on top, and then one or two lumps of coal. This would not be lit until late afternoon. We had no other heating in the rest of the house, and as we never knew anything different back then, we just wore lots of layers of warm clothes. I would often wake up seeing the curtains frozen to my bedroom window. My kids who have been brought up in central heated houses, think that this is hilarious!! 

A Couple Of Old Fire Accessories

This old fender is of solid brass and is rather decorative along the top. 

It is quite compact in size, measuring just 3 1/4" in length and is actually in a relatively good played with condition which is nice. (Often these old brass fenders are seen discoloured or badly mottled). 

And finally, here is a 1930s Taylor and Barrett metal coal box. 

The small lid is removable, so  needless to say, there are many of these tiny coal boxes out there missing either the lid or the bottom half! So although the base is slightly damaged, it is refreshing to still have the lid with this coal box. 

 Yep, some previous little owner has clearly tried to poke their finger (or some implement) through the base, so it has split slightly but thankfully the damaged base is well hidden so not noticeable. Nevertheless though, I am selling this at a reduced price due to the damage. 

All items seen here are at the time of writing this blog are available for purchase and can be seen on the Living and Dining Room Page on KT Miniatures:
Thanks for stopping by.


KT Miniatures

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

A Little Sitting Room Inside An Old Clock

 Here is a recent creation on behalf of a family member, who asked if I could make a little something for a special friend of theirs.  It had to be "very pink and lacey"… and oh what fun I had with it, as it was a million miles away from my norm (and my comfort zone)! It was to be a 1/12th scale sitting room with specific items based on the recipient’s own special possessions and likes, including her love of reading so a bookcase (she is a big Jane Austen fan), a “pink cuddle armchair”, mirror, Ginny (her Cavalier King Charles spaniel) , her favourite plant (aglaonema), a Nursing Times (she is a nurse), a teapot & mug (as she is a big tea drinker), plus replicas of two of her precious family pictures. So here it is and this is how I made it...

After some pondering and discussion, it was decided to use a vintage clock that I had tucked away in my old workroom, it was left over from a past project. Old clocks are ideal if one is looking for something small and unobtrusive to make a simple room scene in. The glass clock face had not been in great condition and was long gone, but the back of the clock had the most wonderful miniature door, as is often the case. Hence the original back of the clock was now the front! The downside was that the exterior was quite marked, but I was confident I could restore it up to a point. 

The glass had already been removed and the back reinforced with thick cardboard, covered in felt and edged with cord - a technique I have used umpteen times before. 
The hole inside was filled with a round piece of thick cardboard, and interior ceiling/walls painted a flesh shade of pink. 
I spotted some lovely funky pinkish craft paper in an art shop which was perfect. It was cut to shape and fixed to the back wall. As a focal point, I decided to insert a simple vintage fireplace that had seen better days and a pre-loved mirror, very similar to the recipients own lounge mirror. 
Once the craft paper was in place, pink felt was fixed down to represent carpet. The fireplace and a strip of wood offcut to be used for a hearth, was painted bright pink, then fixed centrally in place. The mirror was glued above the fireplace...this was now beginning to take shape. 
A family picture and photo document which had a special resonance to the recipient, were created and relevant frames made from strip wood, and glazed with acetate. They were fixed to each side of the mirror. So too some antique lace fixed around the doorway, just to give it a bit of frilliness :)
And now for the other accessories...

The big "cuddle chair" was literally a spare vintage one that I had tucked away for a rainy day, as a back foot was cracked plus the fabric was not a particularly attractive floral pattern. 
However, I decided that the back foot would be unseen, and the floral fabric could be disguised by hiding under several layers of pink acrylic paint - sneaky trick I discovered many years ago and quite effective!
A vintage cushion that I had tucked away, finished off the chair perfectly. 
The "aglaonema" plant was created from using the leaves from this photo supplied of the actual plant, which were then printed on thin paper and cut out. 
Using Tacky Glue, they were then fixed to green florist wire, which was then set into a mixture of glue and dried tea leaves inside an old wooden pot, painted pink of course. :)  
It kind of worked and I was quite pleased with the result. 

Ginny the dog was represented by using a scaled down photo of her, which was then stuck to cardboard, glazed with acetate, framed with wood strip and given wooden feet. Finally it was topped with a tiny brass handle I had in my "spares box". 
The bookcase was made from wood strip painted in burnt umber acrylic, and filled with almost 50 of my handmade books.
 Yes, they took absolutely ages to make - although many of the covers were tucked away in a file which I had already created and pre-printed onto matt card a long time ago (left over from the days when I used to make and sell miniature books). Although, whilst creating some Jane Austen books from images found on the internet, to my dismay I discovered my hastily bought cheap printer (after my other one suddenly broke) would not print on card! So I had to resort to a Plan B...and print the miniaturised scanned covers onto paper, then stick them onto card, and then create cardboard inserts...but it worked ok! 

All the printed covers I edged in gold gel pen, and some had miniaturised paper dust covers which were glued over coloured card. For most of the books, I inserted tiny wooden inserts, all cut to fit from old strip wood. For the smaller and thinner books I created cardboard inserts. It is ages since I made tiny books but I really enjoyed the creativity of it all :)
I have left them all loose so that the recipient can arrange them as she wishes. 
I added a tiny vintage occasional table, tiny mug and teapot with decorative tea cosy - all of which I have had sitting in a box for ages but which suited this project beautifully. Plus I created a mocked up Nursing Times and a tiny Pride & Prejudice book - as these also have specific resonance to the recipient. The plant was placed on the mantelpiece, along with two British artisan made purple glass candlesticks with mock candles (I have had several of these for many years sitting unused in a box and shamefully I cannot remember the maker's name - all I can remember is that he lived on the south coast). 
Finally, the exterior was tidied up using a combination of burnt umber and raw umber acrylic paint applied with a fine paint brush to disguise the ugly marks to the damaged exterior. Then my last task was to buff the exterior extensively with wax polish and a soft cloth. It came up a treat!

Thanks for taking a peek.