We're loving June!

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

30 April 2013

June's issue of The Dolls' House magazine goes on sale this thursday - and it's looking great! Check out our preview on our Facebook page

Making it all the more exciting is a 16-page supplement with lots of cut-out designs for your miniature ladieswear shop, plus pages of dolls' house wallpaper to use in your creative projects. A big thank you to The Craft Pack Company, Odins Miniatures, Lesely Shepherd of About. Miniatures and Jacksons Miniatures for making our dreams come true!

There's plenty to read with profiles of the late Charles Matton - a French film maker who produced a stunning range of room boxes (one is one the cover) and talented illustrator Alice Wood with her charming dolls' house and characters. And you'll love Daisy and Maud, our ladies maids - read their letters and discover a wealth of domestic hints and tips!

It doesn't get much better than this....well, actually, wait until you see what is planned for July!

Sewing bee bonanza

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

25 April 2013

Like many other people I've enjoyed watching The Great British Sewing Bee on television over the last four weeks. It was no suprise that 81 year old contestant Ann scooped the first prize. Her work was meticulous and methodical, well-finished and all sewn with apparent calm. Those decades of sewing experience shone through - hopefully something that tearful Lauren will come to appreciate as she develops her own skills in the coming years.

With a second series being planned and contestants sought it just goes to emphasise that the good old home crafts really are experiencing a revival (which is good news). I don't think that it is just a reflection of the current economic situation where we all have less cash in our purses, there is something funamentally satisfying about 'making it yourself' - whether it is clothes, cakes, jam or dolls' houses!

The dolls' house enthusiast knows all about home-making of course. A whole house where, unless you are able to buy everything single item in it, much of the enjoyment is in creating the right look for every room and all the items in it. Sometimes this is as simple as giving a bought chest of drawers a makeover rather than making a chest of drawers form scratch, or sewing a little seat pad to go on a kitchen chair.

And isn't it lovely doing this? We might not need to set ourselves a 'sewing bee' time limit but setting ourselves a specific project to do on a certain day is an interesting idea. I'd certainly  get so much more done rather than procrastinating!

If you want to enter the next Great British Sewing Bee you'll find the details here:



Model village makes the grade

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

22 April 2013

I read this morning that the model village in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, has been granted a Grade II listing by English Heritage. Not suprisingly the owners of the model village, Julian and Vicki Atherton are delighted...and so am I.

Model villages do have something of an English eccentricity about them, but they attract plenty of tourists. Crowds of visitors, cameras in hand, snap away at the tiny buildings, manicured lawns and gardens, and peer at the plethora of tiny businesses. I did so myself at another popular model village site, Bekonscot in Buckinghamshire, on a trip there for a feature for The Dolls' House magazine many years ago.

I wonder how many people who enjoy such model villages realise that they can have their own little houses...and indoors too, to be admired, whatever the weather!


Looking forward to Leonardslee

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

18 April 2013

I heard this morning that it looks like there are plans to re-open Leonardslee. This West Sussex estate - famous for its gardens (and wallabies) - also had a fabulous 1:12 scale miniatures display, showing the estate as it would have been 100 years ago. The details was incredible, much of it achieved by the creative talents of Helen Holland who worked tirelessly to bring the scenes to life. Photographs of the collection have been regularly featured in The Dolls' House magazine. 

When the site closed - sold to a new owner - we all wondered what would happen to the dolls' houses...would they be sold off? We'll certainly keep you posted on developments.

Raising a note

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

15 April 2013

Running a bi-annual craft fair is part of Heber Opera's fund-raising strategy. I've been involved with the Brighton-based singing group (and other theatre groups) for over 18 years now. I don't sing or act, but work as the Props Mistress, and have an attic full of assorted items as a result. There are the frequently used objects such and tankards, pouches of coins, old documents, and a wide range of masks. And then there are the unusual items such as the decomposed corpses and the three-tiered wedding cake, all awaiting their turn in the spotlight - again.

With a production of Verdi's La Traviata (sung in English, performed in the round) coming up next month, the publicity is in full-swing, and the need for funds increasingly more important. For an amateur group like ours, it costs a staggering amount of money to put on each production. The cast offers their services for free - and what fantastic voices they are too. At last week's rehearsal I had to stand in for one of the principals as the scene was blocked. It was daunting having the lead soprano stand in front of me, look directly into my eyes, and sing full pelt! I am in awe of their talents.

I've become un-official photographer for the company so went to the craft fair on last Saturday's rainy morning to take some pictures for the website and Facebook page. But I don't need any excuse to enjoy a craft fair. I love seeing any form of arts and crafts and I wasn't disappointed with the selection. I ended up buying a wirework necklace from Vanessa Maile Jewellery that I just couldn't resist…sharing an office with Making Jewellery magazine has trained my eye to the subject!

Vanessa Maile Jewellery

Vanessa Maile Jewellery2

Vanessa Maile Jewellery3

She has so many colour variations of her jewellery it was so hard to pick. Vanessa herself was wearing a lovely pink necklace exactly matching her dress - perfect publicity! Fascinator specialist Sophie King was also sporting one of own creations - and I loved it! It made me wish for a special event to go to just to wear one (maybe I should just order one anyway?). I loved the fact that she was happy to discuss colour options to match outfits or bags. She seemed so quiet and unassuming but there was oodles of ability…if you find face to face discussions tricky, you surely won't with Sophie...

Sophie King

Sophie King2

Craft fair organizer Jenny Letton not only sings with the company, and generates a fantastic after-show meal (her bread & butter ice cream is to die for), also finds the time to make jam, fudge, re-cane chairs, and produce rag rugs...

Jenny Letton rag rug

She explained to me how her rag-rug cushions were produced - arty re-cycling gets the big green tick in my book. If you have ever organized such an event as this you know just how much work is involved behind the scenes (more so when you have an opera score to learn).

I discovered at the craft fair that one of our latest recruits to the chorus, Jan Barger, works as an illustrator and had a stand. She had a range of items available - all colourful and quirky.

Jan Barger

Ja Barger2 

I loved her papier-mache bowls and know from experience just how long such items take to make. Hidden talents - we all have them!

Any craft fair is the place to get more out of any purchase, you get the essential provenance of the item, the artist's inspiration, and buy a piece of their dreams. If you want something memorable for yourself or as a birthday / anniversary / celebrational gift, then forgo the high street and find a craftsman. Lots of ideas on offer from Handmade Unique Gifts...



Quirky character masks from Connie Hughesy ...

Mummy Hughes


And pretty traditional nightwear (including this fabulous fabric design) for your little ones from Hardy Rose...

Hardy Rose

More jewellery ideas from KT Designs...

KT Designs

and from Gill Taylor...

Gill Taylor


The price range was easily comparable with mass-produced stuff that I've seen in the shops, and the craft fair goods had the quality - and unique - mark that high street goods sometimes lack. And it is so important that these events do get supported…by craftsmen and visitors, whether there is a worthy cause behind it or not. 

And if all else fails, you can be sure of a decent cup of tea and slice of cake.

cake stand

If you want to see La Traviata and live in Sussex visit www.heberopera.co.uk. You can also find us on Facebook.

Vanessa Maile Jewellery www.vanessamailejewellery.co.uk

Bespoke Fascinators from Sophie King Tel: 01444 482480

Jan Barger, illustrator, janbarger@hotmail.com



KT Designs, Tel: 01273 833818

Gill Taylor, handmade glass jewellery info@something-different.org.uk

The White Queen

Karen Bamford

Karen Bamford

11 April 2013

This month it seems everyone's thinking 'Tudor'. The latest issue of The Dolls' House magazine includes:

  • Castle keeps, marvellous heirs and heirlooms to buy for your miniature scene
  • Suits you sire! What the Tudor chap wore
  • Dress a Tudor workman, Janet Harmsworth explains how to clothe a poor man
  • Make a cabinet bed
  • Make an oak table
  • Stitch a wall hanging, with a coat of arms

And we're not alone in our fascination with the period as The White Queen, a major new ten-hour adaptation of Philippa Gregory's bestselling historical novel series, The Cousin's War, is currently being filmed for the BBC.

This is sure to fuel further interest in Tudor-style miniatures. We haven't all got Tudor dolls' houses but that's OK because 'antique' furniture can be found in any miniature home. Alternatively, why not buy or dress a couple of dolls and create a period roombox inspired by the TV series?

Set against the backdrop of the War of the Roses, The White Queen is the thrilling story of the women caught up in the ongoing conflict for the throne. They are some of the most ruthless players in history and will stop at nothing to support their own causes and those of the ones they love.

The year is 1464 and England has been at war for nine years battling over who is the rightful King of England. It is a war between two sides of the same family, The House of York and The House of Lancaster.

The House of York's young and devilishly handsome Edward IV (Max Irons - Red Riding Hood) is crowned King of England with the help of the master manipulator Lord Warwick "The Kingmaker" (James Frain - True Blood, The Tudors). But when Edward falls in love and secretly marries a beautiful young widow, the commoner Elizabeth Woodville, introducing the actress Rebecca Ferguson, Warwick's plan for control over the English throne comes crashing down around him. Frustrated by the new Queen's influence he will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on the King.

The most beautiful woman in the land, Elizabeth Woodville, marries for the love of her King, with the help of her mother Jacquetta (Academy & Tony award nominee Janet McTeer) a self proclaimed sorceress. Elizabeth's most fierce adversary is the staunchly loyal Lancastrian Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale - The Crimson Petal & The White), a damaged and highly religious woman who would willingly lay down her life to see her young son Henry Tudor take the throne. And then there is Anne Neville (introducing Faye Marsay), Lord Warwick The Kingmaker's daughter, who finds her strength and ambition when she takes control of her destiny and marries the King's younger brother Richard Duke of Gloucester (Aneurin Bernard - Ironclad, Spring Awakening).

The White Queen is being filmed on location in Bruges, Belgium, and will broadcast on BBC One this year.

If you have been inspired to make Tudor themed miniatures, please let us know by emailing dheditorial@thegmcgroup.com

Did you spot the anachronism?

Karen Bamford

Karen Bamford

8 April 2013

We know our readers are a clever bunch and we like to keep you on your toes, so we were delighted to publish this picture in our May issue (on sale now) and ask you to spot what was out of place. We promised to print the answer here on our blog, so if you haven't yet tested your historical knowledge and studied the image in detail, look away now… the answer is coming up!

BLOG Parris New 

We asked: can you find the anachronism in this display? The answer is the milk bottle and boxed biscuit mix in the wall cupboard.

This incredible miniature scene is the work of Susan Parris. It is called 'A London Milkmaid's Garret After May Day' c1725-50 and is the first of her Cries of London series. We enjoyed the fact that despite the serious research that Susan undertakes to make all her miniatures historically accurate, she always hides a small item or detail in a scene that doesn't belong in the intended time period. You can read our full report on Susan's one-of-a-kind miniatures in the May issue of The Dolls' House magazine.

Did you get the answer right? Are you a stickler for authentic detail and have you ever got it wrong, either on purpose or by accident? You can tell us on our Facebook page, by clicking here https://www.facebook.com/TheDollsHousemagazine

Tulips from Amsterdam

Christiane Berridge

Christiane Berridge

8 April 2013

It's been such a busy four weeks, what with my trip to the Ideal Home Show, then the very snowy Miniatura weekend (has everyone thawed out yet?). So the Easter break was most welcome and a chance to get together with my family. Although the June issue of The Dolls' House magazine was due to be completed I had that week booked off. Luckily I've got a capable team in Karen and Norman, so I knew the magazine's completion was all in safe hands.

In my week off I had arranged to go to Amsterdam for three days with a couple of girlfriends, a trip organized way ahead to see the tulips fields, supposedly in their glory in the first week of April. Ah yes, but the bitter cold spring meant that the tulips in the Keurkenhoff Gardens were staying snug and warm underground! And the weather was bitterly cold still. Luckily the pavilions in the gardens were resplendent with displays so I was able to put my camera to good use. This shot shows one of the massed beds of indoor planting. But I took lots of other photographs including some lovely close ups with my new macro lens. The smell of the hyacinths was amazing and couldn't be captured in any picture!


Another disappointment was the full closure of the Rijks Museum - planning its grand opening any day now…home of stunning dolls' houses, including the one owned by Petronella Oortman - one that I long to see. But, there were other museums to visit (and Anne Frank's house of course), and it was lovely to be somewhere different to relax. I did manage to photograph those classic Dutch subjects  - bicycles, tulips, windmills and clogs (the ones below showing a traditional Delph design)!


The streets of Amsterdam were wonderful - I loved the tall canal-side houses. A canal boat tour provided a perfect view of the architecture. True to the commentary on the audio tour, we even saw a piece of furniture being hoisted up to the top floor of one house, using the hook and pulley that many of the houses had. I have seen pictures of 1:12 scale dolls' houses based on these canal houses and they are very appealing. I guess it's the Dutch equivalent of our Georgian townhouses.

Amsterdam view

I saw Van Gogh's paintings, and really enjoyed Rembrant's house and both the Flea Market and floating flower market, and there was more wonderful artwork by other Dutch painters in the Amsterdam Museum, but all the Vermeer's were locked away in the Rijks Museum, so a return trip will definitely have to be made for the future. 

Sneak preview of our May issue on sale on Thursday!

Karen Bamford

Karen Bamford

2 April 2013

If the clocks can take a leap forward then so can we - with a little peep at our May issue, available in the shops later this week. I'm still shivering after a frosty start to the day, but the sun is shining so hopefully spring has sprung and our latest projects and features will warm your hearts!

DH180 COVER Mag Blog

Our elegant front cover will give you a clue to some of the content this issue as we feature the The Thorne Rooms. A staggering 1.5 million people visit this unique collection each year, so looking after it is an enormous task. Christiane Berridge interviews the curator, Lindsay Mican Morgan. While researching her article, Christiane came across author Marianne Malone, who first saw The Thorne Rooms as a child and has now penned a series of mystery books based on the collection.

Wizard NEW 

They say an Englishman's home is his castle and this issue we think about the possiblities of castles in miniature. So, we feature a reader's crazy castle inhabited by a rock 'n' roll wizard and showcase gorgeous Tudor-style miniatures to collect. 

Princess NEW

Our castle themed projects, most of which are suitable for use in a house too, include: dress a Tudor workman; make a cabinet bed and an oak table; stitch a wall hanging; make a wooden play castle; and decorate a bedroom suite for a modern day princess.

With all this and much more to read and do, it's worth staying home, whatever the weather!